Who is Christian Bittar? We were among the first to report on Bittar’s huge pay in 2013. Since then, things have taken a turn for the worse for the enigmatic French trader.
Bittar appeared in court in London yesterday to be formally charged with manipulating interest rates. The ex-Deutsche Bank proprietary trader was one of six people to be charged, but stood separate from the rest for the sheer enormity of the bail charge levied against him. While ex-Barclays trader Carlo Palombo was bailed for £150k and Achim Kraemer (Deutsche’s current head of global liquidity transfer pricing) was bailed for £100k, Bittar was bailed for £1m.
The fine reflects his huge earnings at Deutsche. In 2008, Bittar made €500m in profit for Deutsche and was reportedly due a bonus of more than €50m for that year alone under the terms of his employment contract. When Bittar was dismissed from Deutsche over rate rigging allegations in 2011, the bank clawed back €40m in bonuses. Nonetheless, Bittar is almost certainly a very wealthy man: over the ten year period he worked for Deutsche, he is likely to have made a small fortune.
In the circumstances, the lack of visibility surrounding Bittar’s education and career is unusual. We know very little about him, except that he’s French, was born on January 12th 1972, and joined Deutsche Bank in 2001 aged 29. At Deutsche, he allegedly became a favourite of ex-CEO Anshu Jain, making huge profits for the bank and garnering support from the leader until his career ended ignominiously four years ago. Along with the five other traders, Bittar is now facing criminal charges of conspiring to “procure or make submissions” in relation to Euribor that were false. If convicted, he could go the same way as Tom Hayes, the former UBS trader whose letters from prison bemoaning drug overdoses and fights reveal just how far super successful traders from the past decade can fall.
Separately, beware drunken entrepreneurs making unreasonably generous promises. Jeff Blue, a former managing director at London-based boutique DC Advisory Partners and director at Merrill Lynch, quit banking in November 2012 to join Sports Direct, the sporting goods retailer, as a strategic adviser. Whilst drinking in a London pub, Sports Direct owner and founder Mike Ashley allegedly offered to pay Blue £15m if he could repair Ashley’s damaged relationship with banks and substantially increase Sports Direct’s share price. Blue claims to have fulfilled Ashley’s request, but has ‘only’ been paid £1m. Always get it in writing…
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