UBS accused of mishandling London graduate’s rape claim – Financial News
A former employee at UBS has accused the Swiss bank of seriously mishandling a rape allegation she made against a senior manager at the listed company in the autumn of last year.
The woman, who was employed as part of the bank’s graduate programme, wrote to the head of UBS’s investment bank last week outlining a number of failures she says the bank made during its six-month investigation of the rape claim. The rape is alleged to have taken place in September 2017.
In an email addressed to Andrea Orcel, who is also an executive board member at UBS, the woman alleges the bank allowed the man she accused of rape to continue to sit close to her for three weeks after she informed the company of the assault.
“In September last year I was raped by a director at UBS,” the woman wrote in the email to Orcel on July 18th.
The man in question was suspended from the bank in the third week of October and later resigned in March, according to people familiar with the matter, who added that the incident has not been reported to the police.
“After one month of allowing the man who assaulted me to work in close proximity to me, HR suspended him pending an investigation,” wrote the woman, who worked at the bank’s London headquarters in Broadgate. “The investigation was completed a few months later involving intrusive and uncomfortable questions for me and others.”
She continued in the email: “Although the investigation was completed, nothing happened. He was suspended before I was told he had chosen to leave. I was kept in the dark and when I asked for a status update on the investigation, I was told I wasn’t permitted to know.”
The rape is alleged to have taken place at the senior manager’s home.
In separate correspondence seen by Financial News the woman also alleges she was moved to different roles and desks “against her will” during the investigation and that the bank told her she would be sacked if she “spoke externally” about the matter as doing so would be a breach of her contract.
UBS declined to comment on the specific allegations but the bank said in a statement: “UBS has a zero tolerance policy towards sexual misconduct and harassment and we immediately investigate all allegations. We have strong policies and procedures in place to handle such complaints and approach them with the utmost care.”
The bank added: “This matter is deeply upsetting, and while we cannot discuss it publicly due to employee confidentiality, our first priority is always to support our people and provide a safe environment to report any misconduct.”
The allegations come amid a rise in in legal disputes over sexual harassment in the City of London and a day after politicians demanded that UK companies do more to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.
UBS said it is planning to review how the bank handles cases of harassment.
The bank said: “Following significant cases, we conduct a review and if there are opportunities to strengthen our procedures we do so. It is important to note that certain criminal allegations by their very nature need to be investigated by the police.”
A person familiar with the matter said Orcel had replied personally to the woman’s email.
The UBS allegation has echoes of cases to have emerged at Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs. In March, Credit Suisse ordered an investigation into how it dealt with the alleged assault of a female employee by her manager in 2010. Later that month, Goldman said it had been looking into allegations of a serious historic sexual assault against a former female employee in 1994.
Banks and the wider corporate world find themselves under increasing pressure over historical allegations of abuse of women. In January, sexual harassment was unearthed at an annual charity dinner hosted by the Presidents Club, an event at which City professionals from banks were present.
On July 25, MPs said UK companies should have a new legal duty imposed on them to combat sexual harassment. The UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee slammed non-disclosure agreements, under which victims of such abuse settle out of court instead of going public.
The widespread use of NDAs in the City is one reason why financial firms have weathered the #MeToo movement largely free of public scandal, according to lawyers.
This story was updated at 7.48pm
To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Chris Newlands