The Thing is: Cantor Fitzgerald. Brokers swear the oath, and then they really get swearing

'I have sworn, shouted and yelled at employees and they have shouted back. It's part of the passion of our business'
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For four-letter invectives, you don't know whether to be in the Centre Court or the High Court. Greg Rusedski might have been swearing at the umpire last week, but the most impressive volley of "f**ks" came courtesy of an unfair dismissal claim against Cantor Fitzgerald, the brokers.

Former executive Steven Horkulak is suing for £1.5m and accuses Cantor's international boss, Lee Amaitis, of bullying and "hysterically screaming obscenities". A City trial is never dull, and the added details of executives hoovering up cocaine, going to lap-dancing bars and discussing hitmen spiced up the proceedings.

The telephone number salaries that City guys can expect look less appealing when the workplace bonhomie is examined. Mr Horkulak told the court: "Mr Amaitis would shout at me and scream at me almost every time we spoke." He said he had been near to a nervous breakdown. To cope, he had developed a four-gram-a-week cocaine habit. "I had to keep going, and how I chose to keep going was through the excessive use of alcohol and drugs."

A trip to Tokyo involved an evening at the lap-dancing club For Your Eyes Only, the court was told, while Mr Amaitis allegedly said he would never set foot in a place full of "slanty-eyed yellow f**ks".

Mr Amaitis denies ranting or unreasonable behaviour, and said Mr Horkulak was just unable to cope with the job. "I have sworn, shouted and yelled at employees and senior managing directors and they have shouted back at me," he said in his defence. "It's part of the passion of our sort of business. We are very emotional about it."

Cantor has had an emotional few years. The firm suffered badly in the tragedy of 11 September, losing 95 per cent of its US staff. And it is no stranger to stormy court cases. In a legal battle last year, Cantor accused arch-rival broker Icap of taking advantage of the disorder after the World Trade Centre attacks and poaching three of its staff. In contrast, Mr Amaitis was labelled as "threatening and unprofessional" by one of the departed employees.

The judge's verdict was mixed and both sides claimed victory, but the bad blood between the rival brokers remains. Perhaps this is why Icap's chief executive, Michael Spencer, enjoyed the latest spectacle in the court gallery throughout last week. Mr Amaitis told this newspaper last year that Mr Spencer "hates Cantor and hates me".

But in court last week, Mr Amaitis denied calling him a "f**king fat greasy f**k". "He's not fat," he said. "I would have probably said he was a f**k or a bastard," he added. "I probably called him a f**king vulture because that's what the tabloids used."

The court was told that Mr Amaitis's venom ran so deep that he had been offered a hitman to "take care of [Spencer] once and for all", but this was denied as "absolutely ridiculous."

Not for nothing is Mr Amaitis known as the "Brooklyn Bruiser". But he denied that employees were subject to a "hostile outburst" when told to scrap a product under development. "I wasn't abusive," he told the court. "I said, 'get this crap out of here, it's a piece of sh*t and it will never work.' "

City life is known to be tough, and he said it was perfectly reasonable to ring Mr Horkulak at 8pm in the evening, although he hadn't known that the night in question had been his daughter's birthday and he denied that he had "ranted".

The ins and outs of broking life are known to induce bad language, and industry sources said the revelations in court were pretty par for the course.

"In terms of the lurid details, I don't think anyone in inter-dealer broking [Cantor's business] would be surprised by this. It's known to be a colourful environment," said one industry insider. "Larger than life figures prosper."

Another excused the strip joint jaunts: "Lap dancing wouldn't be covered by expense accounts."

But there is a moral here for any foul-mouthed person, whether on Centre Court or in their own office: those off-the-cuff outbursts could become rather more public than intended.

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