J.P. Morgan Trader Sues for a Salary Mix-up

Photo: J Elgaard/iStock

In June 201o, Swiss currency trader Kai Herbert, then working for UBS, got what he thought was a very generous offer from J.P. Morgan, an annual salary of 24 million rand. That works out to about $3.1 million.  Kind of a lot for a trader! In fact, so much that it's not what J.P. Morgan meant to pay him. The bank says it put the decimal point in the wrong place, and that the offer should have been for a mere $2.4 million rand.  Whoopsies! Guess we know who's not in charge of figuring out the tip at the next company outing.

Herbert, who'd quit his job and has been largely unemployed since, wasn't quite willing to laugh it off as a silly math mistake among friends who don't work with numbers that much.  As Bloomberg reports, though Herbert discovered the mistake before starting work at J.P. Morgan, he's suing. And the defense appears to be taking the tack of turning their embarrassment into his.

“How can you possibly suggest that they would pay you so much money for an executive director level job?” Charles Ciumei, a lawyer for JPMorgan, asked during Herbert’s cross-examination. The bank said Herbert could have mitigated his lost earnings by taking the position at the New York-based bank.

Asking a trader why he has such a massively inflated ego seems an unfruitful line of questioning —  Follow-up: Why is water wet? — but it seems ten times more so than any other possible line of questioning. Or do we mean one-tenth? Dunno. Numbers! So hard.