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The recent case of Mr S Fekete v Citibank highlighted the requirement for full disclosure and honesty from employees, in this case in relation to the submission of expenses.

The facts of the case

Szabolcs Fekete, a senior analyst of financial crime employed by Citibank for 7 years, was dismissed for dishonestly claiming expenses for his partner’s lunch whilst on a business trip in Amsterdam.

Mr Fekete submitted an expense form for two sandwiches, two coffees and another drink for lunch on one day of the business trip.

This was queried by his manager, since Citibank’s expenses policy did not allow reimbursement of partner’s meals and required any attendees whose meals were being reimbursed to be listed on the expenses form. Mr Fekete assured his manager by email that he had consumed all the food himself and that it was all covered within Citibank’s €100 daily limit.

The manager raised his concerns to Citibank’s Ethics Office for further investigation. When asked whether he had shared a meal of two pasta dishes with his partner, Mr Fekete maintained that he had not.

However, he later admitted that he had included his partner’s meals on his expense forms; but contended that he was struggling following his grandmother’s death, which led to him taking 6 weeks medical leave. He also pointed out that he was on strong medication when he sent the emails to his manager.

Following a disciplinary hearing, Mr Fekete was dismissed for gross misconduct and brought claims of unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal against Citibank.  

Tribunal decision

The employment tribunal dismissed both of Mr Fekete’s claims and held that Citibank had fairly dismissed him in the circumstances.

The tribunal emphasised that although the amount falsely claimed was minimal, Mr Fekete failed to give “full and frank disclosure at the first opportunity”. Given his position of trust within the organisation, the tribunal concluded that his dismissal fell within the band of a reasonable response by a reasonable employer.

The tribunal accepted that if Mr Fekete’s expense claim had been submitted in error as he suggested, he was obliged to admit this when he was first questioned. Instead, Mr Fekete repeatedly failed to answer direct questions about his expenses, which warranted his dismissal considering the importance of honesty for his role within the company.

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Debbie Coyne

Debbie Coyne

Employment Law Senior Associate Solicitor

Debbie is a Senior Associate in the Employment team who regularly attends our offices in Altrincham, Warrington and Chester.  She is recommended in The Legal 500 and has been named as a Rising Star.

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