Banker loses unfair dismissal case after sandwich expenses claim goes bad

Fired employee claimed expenses for his partner’s meal against company rules

Banker loses unfair dismissal case after sandwich expenses claim goes bad

A Citi employee who bought a sandwich and coffee for his partner while on a business trip has lost his case for unfair dismissal after his expenses claim was challenged.

Szabolcs Fekete was working for the Citibank UK business unit as a financial crimes analyst when he went to Amsterdam on company business in 2022 and told a colleague he was taking his partner with him.

On returning to the office, he submitted an expenses claim which included a receipt for two sandwiches and two coffees. While it fell within the company’s daily allowance for food and drink, the claim was questioned as it appeared to be a meal for two and partners were not covered by the allowance.

The matter escalated when Fekete insisted he had eaten all of the food and drink, stating that the coffees were small, and that the food constituted lunch and dinner, part of which he had consumed at the company’s Amsterdam office.

Citi Security and Investigations Services became involved and further questions related to two pasta dishes – specifically pesto and bolognaise – which Fekete again denied included food for his partner despite being told by an investigator that she would understand if a mistake had been made.

However, he later admitted that his partner did consume some of the food for which he had tried to claim expenses, citing personal difficulties following the death of his grandmother in mitigation.

Fekete was fired for gross misconduct.


Believing he had been unfairly dismissed, Fekete took Citibank UK to an employment tribunal.

An email exchange between Fekete and the investigator Andrea Lelo was included as part of the tribunal, but Fekete said this took place while he was on medical leave and taking medication. He also claimed that Lelo had been aggressive in her questioning, although the tribunal judge said that he found that “the interview notes do not indicate that Ms. Lelo was aggressive but frustrated at the lack of a direct response to her questions.”

The financial institution gave evidence including part of its Expense Policy: “Spousal travel and meals are not reimbursable.” It also included a section referring to upholding company values: “Not make false statements to internal or external auditors, investigators, legal counsel, Citi representatives, regulators, or other governmental entities.”

After considering the facts of the case, the judge ruled that a claim for either unfair dismissal or wrongful dismissal were “not well founded and dismissed.”