'Banking chat aarrrgh!'

Two lawyers who left BNP Paribas after hijacking a banterbus and driving it into a wall are set to have their off-colour comments analysed by tribunals on either side of the English Channel.

The SRA has referred Benedict Foster, the French bank’s former London Head of Legal for Debt and Equity, to the SDT, which is yet to decide if there is a case to answer.

Foster was investigated by BNP Paribas after emails emerged in which he called an Asian colleague 'Hu She' and his managers "cunts". He was also alleged to have called an Indian colleague "biryani".

The bank imposed sanctions on Foster which included extra training, but cleared him of racist intent, prompting staff to complain that the process was a "sham" and that "there are no consequences for blatant racist behaviour". Soon afterwards the bank told staff that Foster was retiring.

An SRA spokesperson told ROF, “We can confirm that a decision to refer has been made and the case is currently with the legal team”.

Meanwhile, a French tribunal is considering another BNP Paribas lawyer’s claim that he was wrongly dismissed.

ROF revealed in 2022 how Benoit Faure, the bank’s Head of Legal for Equity Capital Markets, was suspended for calling an Asian colleague a "Cheeky Chink".

Faure emailed the slur to his team after the employee asked him for some spreadsheet data.

The lawyer compared another colleague to Pol Pot, and his over-dependence on Asian-based insults seems to have been too much for the bank, which fired him.

Faure has sued BNP Paribas for €1.5m, claiming the bank violated his privacy by referring to emails which, although offensive and inappropriate, were sent to a handful of teammates and not the targets themselves.

“You can argue about morality, but it’s a strictly private matter”, his attorney, Paul Van Deth, told the panel of judges at a Paris employment tribunal, according to a Bloomberg report.


It's not marked private, but that presumably isn't a problem.

Van Deth argued that all the bank could muster was a tiny number of questionable emails. There was “no other argument than these nine emails out of the hundreds of thousands sent over the past 33 years”, he said.

Acting for BNP Paribas, Herbert Smith Freehills lawyer Sophie Brezin responded, “He’s a lawyer, he knows the weight of his words.”

“Yet, I don’t have any record of Mr. Faure saying, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings’. I don’t have any of that on file.”

She said that Faure’s “facade is polished, but underneath it’s dreadful”.

Faure didn’t respond to ROF’s request for comment (he may still be smarting about the coverage), but he told Bloomberg after the hearing that he “of course expressed regrets when he was summoned for the dismissal interview” by BNP Paribas.

He also explained that ‘Pol Pot’ was a nickname in general use for a manager who was tasked with cutting the legal team’s costs by 15%.

“I didn’t invent this nickname, nor the others, which were commonly used by everyone, but the bank didn’t see fit to go after the others who used these words”, Faure said.

BNP Paribas and Foster did not respond to requests for comment.

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Tip Off ROF


Joe 07 June 24 09:52

There is a fine line between banter and abuse. Personally I believe that this did not cross that line .

Joe has spoken 07 June 24 10:33

Joe, your personal beliefs are literally irrelevant but rather what the law considers to be the purpose and impact of what you say about and to other people that aren't you.  If you don't realise that how on God's green earth are you a lawyer?  I worry about you honestly.  Let's catch a coffee at your next Employment Tribunal and I'll give you a few steers

Anonymous 07 June 24 10:56

A pair of horrible racists. It's in the code of conduct for solicitors to treat colleagues fairly and with respect. The SDT should take action.

Anon 07 June 24 11:19

Surely ( some mistake) but “who he” seems a fairly obvious reference to the long running private eye gag. 

papercuts 07 June 24 11:28

Boorish, tedious, but hardly a firing matter.  Just insult right back, for heaven's sake.  

Really? 07 June 24 12:38

"Van Deth argued that all the bank could muster was a tiny number of questionable emails. There was “no other argument than these nine emails out of the hundreds of thousands sent over the past 33 years”, he said."


I assume they have a lot of success defending murder charges by pointing to the thousands of people the alleged murderer comes into contact in life that they manage not to kill! Just about the worst line of logic I have seen to date.

Aspiring BNPP lawyer 07 June 24 13:59

So pleased to see BNPP legal back at the top of the charts, even if it is a rehash of old stories. I demand fresh material. 

Lemme tell you something... 07 June 24 14:10

its a common theme on this topic that others (read: fellow racists) will defend comments as "just banter" or "it didn't cross the line". If someone is making pejorative derivations of someones name primarily because it is foreign or weird sounding to them IT IS RACIST! It marginalises the person on the basis of their race or culture and separates them from the racist's view of "normal". If you are calling someone a "chink" or "Biryani" or "Hu She", or if you think thats fine, you are defintely, without a doubt, a fucking racist.

Anon 07 June 24 16:03

Louis Flannery KC, as reported in this veritable organ, said much the same to someone in various tweets. Was our Silken friend, known as much for his intellect as his personal judgement, ever referred to the SRA?

Free Agent Limo 08 June 24 13:16

If Foster has retired, then what does the SDT have to do with anything?

Anonymous 09 June 24 19:00

@Lemme tell you something - this is spot on. And the racists dismissing this as banter ('this country used to be able to have a joke, it's PC gone mad...etc etc ') are ironically the hypocrites who are super sensitive to being labelled as 'gammons'. 

C'mon regulators - get the racists Foster and Faure struck off!  

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