London banker sues UOB for race discrimination

By BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE • A former official at United Overseas Bank Ltd’s (UOB) London branch is suing for unfair dismissal after saying he was denied a new job because he isn’t Asian.

Daniel Smith, who worked at Singapore’s third-largest bank for 23 years, said a manager told him that a candidate from South-East Asia was a better “fit” for a role.

Smith said the minutes of the meeting were later altered when he questioned the comments, and he lost his position shortly afterwards.

“To have been overlooked for an alternative role, and discriminated in the way I was, is such a big letdown given everything I had given to the bank over what has been most of my adult working life,” Smith said in a court filing.

In UK employment cases, an award is capped at around £84,000 (RM443,867) unless a worker can show discrimination or they were whistleblowers.

UOB’s lawyer said that Smith was “kicking up dust” to get a larger payout, and that the other candidate was simply better qualified.

Smith, who was a senior officer in the bank’s treasury business, was initially asked to apply for new roles as the London branch ceased to offer clearing services. He said GM Andy Cheah told him that he’d been unsuccessful because the bank had found an Asian candidate “who would fit into UOB well”.

While Cheah acknowledged that he had used the “descriptive” term that the candidate was Asian, he said “her race and nationality has absolutely nothing to do with her selection”. — Bloomberg