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Ex-UK trader sues Deutsche Bank for $3.3 million over unpaid bonus

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By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) – A former Deutsche Bank trader is suing the bank in a London court for just over 2.6 million pounds ($3.3 million) after she was not paid an individual bonus nearly a decade ago, though Germany’s largest lender says it simply could not afford it.

Shikha Gupta worked until 2017 for Deutsche Bank’s non-core operating unit, which was set up in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to streamline its operations.

Gupta says she helped dispose of billions of dollars of assets for Deutsche Bank, in particular helping it pay a $7.2 billion settlement in 2016 with the U.S. Department of Justice over pre-crisis sales of mortgage-backed securities.

Her lawyers said at the start of a trial at London’s High Court that Gupta was an exceptional employee who was promised a considerable individual bonus, but was given just 21,250 pounds alongside her colleagues for 2016.

Deutsche Bank, however, says no formal guarantee was provided to Gupta that she would receive an individual bonus. The lender’s lawyers also said Deutsche was making over 9,000 employees redundant, nearly 10% of its global workforce.

“Most employers, at least in financial services, would like to pay bonuses to employees based on their performance,” Deutsche Bank’s lawyer James Laddie said in court documents, “but whether they can do so depends on whether they can afford it.”

Laddie said the bank was “in dire straits” in 2016 and the decision was therefore made to not have an individual bonus pool.

Gupta, who now works for Astra Asset Management, said in a written witness statement that she was “responsible for de-risking almost all of the bank’s cash and ABS derivatives”.

She added: “I feel they have breached the trust that I, as an employee, had placed in the institution.”

Laddie, however, said Gupta was not paid an individual bonus “because of a bank-wide decision that it was unaffordable”. (This story has been corrected to change ‘for nearly a decade’ to ‘nearly a decade ago’, in paragraph 1)

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