Top banker quits after telling female colleague he needed ‘love and affection’

·3 min read
citi jan skarbek love and affection quits
citi jan skarbek love and affection quits

A top banker who was suspended after telling a female analyst that he needed “love and affection” while on a work trip in Barcelona has quit.

Sources said that Jan Skarbek, one of the most high-profile dealmakers at Citigroup, has resigned from the Wall Street lender after allegedly making the comments to a colleague while on a staff getaway.

Mr Skarbek is one of the UK’s top investment bankers and was promoted to co-head Citi’s banking, capital markets and advisory business in the UK and Ireland last year. His exit was understood to have been announced in an internal memo to staff this week.

Friends of Mr Skarbek said he made the decision after an internal investigation into his conduct, which is understood to be ongoing, became public. Such inquiries are typically kept confidential. Mr Skarbek declined to comment.

A spokesman for Citigroup declined to comment. The bank previously said it has "zero tolerance" for inappropriate conduct but could not comment on pending investigations.

Financial institutions across Europe have been racing to crack down on complaints about inappropriate behaviour as the male-dominated industry faces increasing scrutiny.

A survey conducted by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) on Wednesday found that only 3pc of those working in finance feel comfortable about office “banter”. More than one in 10 people who said they find banter uncomfortable said they feel that way “at least once a day or all of the time” while a quarter said they feel that way “at least once a week”.

One respondent told the CISI that they felt "racism, sexism, religious taunting, and general toxic male behaviour" was getting worse at their firm as it was now encouraging drinks after work to get people back to the office.

Mr Skarbek's exit comes weeks after a court concluded that Citigroup was not ageist for laying off a 55-year-old banker who was called “old” by his boss, because the US bank went on to promote a colleague only slightly younger than him.

London-based Niels Kirk, who worked on energy deals for the Wall Street giant, was awarded £2.7m ($3.2m) for unfair dismissal in 2020 after his lawyers argued that he was a victim of ageism because one of his bosses told him he was “too old and set in his ways”.

Mr Kirk, who had been at the bank for 26 years and took home £937,000 in 2014 before his salary later dropped to £534,000, said the decision to dismiss him was based on a perception that he was “old” rather than being “agile” and “flexible”.

However, the bank appealed the decision, arguing that he could not have been discriminated against based on age because the restructuring that led to the loss of his job also resulted in the promotion of a 51-year-old female colleague to head of department.

Meanwhile BNP Paribas, the French bank, was reprimanded by the City watchdog earlier this year for how it handled allegations by a female banker who suffered sexual discrimination while working in its London office.

A tribunal heard that drunk male colleagues placed a witch's hat on Stacey Macken’s desk, while she was also told crude sexual stories by senior staff and was shouted down with the catchphrase “not now Stacey”.

Some staff who have been sacked for bullying are also taking their former employers to court as they dispute what counts as toxic workplace behaviour.

One top trader fired in 2019 for “emotional terrorism” that left a colleague with a “feeling of waterboarding” was this year awarded nearly €1.7m for unfair dismissal.

Omar Alami, who earned around £1m a year running a trading desk at BNP Paribas, earlier this year told a Paris employment tribunal that one of his interactions was merely “lively” and he was “never insulting or aggressive”.