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Citibank wins lawsuit against fired analyst who expensed his partner’s meals to the company and then claimed he ate two of everything

Mike Kemp—In Pictures - Getty Images

A former Citibank analyst has lost his claim of unfair dismissal from the bank, after a tribunal discovered he had lied about buying his partner food and charging it to his employer.

Szabolcs Fekete, who was a senior analyst, claimed he had been both wrongfully and unfairly dismissed by his former employer.

Documents from the court case in September, the details of which were made public last week, show Fekete took a business trip to Amsterdam in July 2022.

Fekete had told a colleague he was taking his partner on the three-night trip, and upon returning from abroad was signed off for six weeks on medical leave.

The documents, seen by Fortune, say Fekete had been struggling with the loss of his grandmother prior to the incident, describing her death as a "significant loss" to the claimant.

The alarm on Fekete's expense reports—submitted while on medical leave at the end of July—were raised by the individual's senior colleague, a Citi director.

The director queried why Fekete's expense report appeared to show meals for two people, asking the claimant to add the name of whichever colleague he had eaten with.

Citi's expense policy clearly states spousal travel and meals are not reimbursable, and that any employee attendees the company has been asked to pay for must be named.

When queried on who the additional items were for, Fekete claimed all of the food and drinks were for him: "I was on the business trip by myself and that I had two coffees as they were very small.”

When queried further by a manager on how Fekete had appeared to eat two sandwiches, consume two coffees and a third drink, in the course of one sitting, the employee elaborated: "I skipped breakfast and only had one coffee in the morning.

"For lunch I had one sandwich with a drink and one coffee in the restaurant, and took another coffee back to the office with me and had the second sandwich in the afternoon…which also served as my dinner.”

The employee also pushed back on the questioning by saying he was "well within" the company's daily limit of €100.

Unraveling over pasta pesto

Fekete's story became even more complicated when he was called into a Zoom meeting to discuss the expense claim—after further questions had been raised about why two meals were being charged to the company on other occasions.

The employee had previously tried to brush off questions emailed to him about the expense report, saying: "Could you please outline what your concern is as I don’t think I have to justify my eating habits to this extent?"

During the Zoom meeting Fekete was asked whether he traveled with any other members of staff—he said no—and also whether he may have accidentally claimed the food for his partner—again he said no.

Fekete doubled down on his apparent eating habits, claiming he had eaten two portions of pasta—a pasta pesto and a Bolognese—during one sitting on the trip.

The employee was given some time to think about his position, before admitting there had been some "overlap" between his personal card and company card. He confirmed some of the food on the expense report had been consumed by his partner.

In further disciplinary hearings Fekete claimed he wasn't clear on what Citi's policies were regarding to expense claims, and said he had not made further clarifications to management because he was stressed and anxious.

The London tribunal, first reported by the Financial Times, rejected this reasoning, finding both the complaints of unfair and wrongful dismissal to be "not well founded."

A spokeswoman for Citibank told Fortune: “We are pleased with the decision.”

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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