UBS sued by two traders fired in Singapore over rate scandal

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February 28, 2013 4:21 PM EST

Two former UBS AG traders in Singapore are suing the bank for wrongful dismissal, saying the bank fired them to lessen its role in the alleged manipulation of reference rates used to price currency derivatives known as non-deliverable forwards.

In separate lawsuits filed at Singapore's High Court on Wednesday, Mukesh Kumar Chhaganlal and Prashan Parmeshwar Sunny Miripuri said UBS never gave them full details of what they were alleged to have done wrong. UBS declined to comment.

UBS was fined $1.5 billion in December last year for its role in a multi-year scheme to manipulate the London interbank offered rate (Libor) and other benchmark interest rates.

"It appears to the plaintiff that his summary termination was effected in order to mitigate the defendant's (UBS) role in the growing scandal related to alleged fixing of reference rates in the Singapore market," papers in Kumar's case say.

Kumar, who was the former co-head of Macro Trading, Emerging Markets Asia, and Miripuri, who ran UBS's South East Asian Desk for NDF trading, were both fired on February 7 having been suspended since last year.

Both men said in the papers that UBS never gave them full details of why they were being suspended and subsequently fired.

"They were not presented with any evidence showing they fixed rates," said Daniel Chia, a director at Stamford Law Corp., which is representing the traders. "UBS cannot pinpoint what they did wrong."

A spokeswoman for UBS in Singapore said the bank is declining to comment on the case as the investigations into the alleged manipulation of reference rates are still ongoing.

Kumar did not comment beyond what he said in the court documents when Reuters spoke to him via telephone.

Miripuri could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore ordered banks that help set local interbank lending rates and NDF rates to review the fixing process last year as U.S. and British regulators cracked down on manipulation of Libor, a benchmark used to set interest rates for around $600 trillion worth of securities.

NDFs are derivatives that let companies and investors hedge or speculate on emerging market currencies when exchange controls make it difficult for foreigners to participate directly in the spot market.

The biggest banks in the Asian NDF markets include UBS, JPMorgan Chase & Co , DBS Group Holdings Ltd and HSBC Holdings Plc .

(Reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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