Citi suspends senior bond trader over alleged theft from canteen

Citigroup has suspended one of its most senior bond traders in London after the US investment bank accused him of stealing food from the office canteen. Paras Shah abruptly left his post last month as Citi’s head of high-yield bond trading for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The bank suspended Mr Shah after alleging he had stolen food from the canteen at its European headquarters in Canary Wharf, London, according to four people familiar with the matter. Citi declined to comment. Mr Shah declined to comment over email, referring inquiries to Citi.

The 31-year-old was one of the highest-profile credit traders in Europe, having joined Citi in 2017 after about seven years at HSBC. His job entailed matching buyers and sellers of junk bonds — debt from companies judged to be riskier borrowers — with two former colleagues telling the Financial Times that he was a well-liked and successful trader.

Mr Shah is likely to have received a seven-figure pay package, according to rival traders and junk bond investors, and was suspended weeks before Citi was due to pay bonuses to senior staff. Revenue in Citi’s fixed-income trading division surged 49 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019, well ahead of analysts’ expectations, helping the bank hit its target for return on equity last year. Financial institutions and regulators in the UK have in the past harshly disciplined executives alleged to have engaged in personal misconduct such as theft, even involving small amounts of money.

Japan’s Mizuho Bank fired a London banker in 2016 after he was caught stealing a part from a colleague’s bike worth about £5. In 2014, the Financial Conduct Authority banned a former BlackRock executive from senior roles in the UK financial sector after he was found to have repeatedly dodged paying the train ticket for his commute to the City.

Jonathan Burrows, who worked as a managing director at BlackRock Asset Management Investor Services, ended up paying £43,000 to settle the case when the extent of the evasion, which took place over several years, became clear. Mr Shah’s LinkedIn profile shows that he graduated with an honours degree in economics from the University of Bath in 2010, joining HSBC’s fixed-income trading division the same year.

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Kwame Anane

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