Citibank has asked a New York Supreme Court judge to impose a gag order on David Edwards, the former European employe who is suing the bank for $14 million because he claims he was wrongfully dismissed.
In court papers filed last week, Citibank asked Judge Martin Evans to prevent Edwards or "his agents, servants, employees, delegates and attorneys . . . from divulging to anyone not a party or an attorney for a party to this action . . . any information or data . . . regarding the business of Citibank or Citibank's customers, products and services, methods, systems, business plans or marketing methods . . . or other confidential, secret or prorietary information."
The bank claims that Edwards, who says he was fired because he brought allegations of foreign tax evasion on the part of the bank overseas, is about to violate, or has already violated the bank's rights by making public certain internal Citibank documents.
The celebrated case has generated much interest in banking circles, partially because Edwards has also written an article for a business magazine outlining foreign currency trading operations of a large, unnamed bank.
In that article Edwards maintains that currency traders for major U.S. banks are contributing to the slide of the dollar overseas, and with the help of the multinational corporation actually guiding that drop in such a manner as to profit from the decline.
While many bank officials and government regulators are doubtful that the banks have the power to accomplish such action, there has been growing support for such theories.
In his original filings, Edwards included documents outling specific Citibank transactions he alleged were designed only to evade tax payments in European countries. Those transactions included the sale of dollars from the Paris to Nassau branches of the bank in an apparent effort by the bank to shift profits from Paris, where they were taxable to the French government, to Nassau, where there are no taxes on profits.
Citibank officials have told the Washington Post that the transactions were not designed to evade taxes but were, in fact, legal and merely created to help facilitate the flow of international money. Some bank regulators support that theory, contending that the local laws of many countries make it extremely difficult for currency traders to hold positions in various currencies overnight.
Frequently, the regulators and Citibank executives contend, moneytraders have to "park" their holdings of one currency or another in a bank branch in Nassau or some other virtually unregulated banking city just to be able to react swiftly to a 24-hour-a-day world money market, and sell such positions when most desirable to do so.
Still, Citibank wants to prevent Edwards from showing anyone any more bank documents, because, the bank claims, it is unfair to expose internal bank operations to the outside world.