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News: Investment manager loses £1.7m bonus over poaching lunch

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11th Dec 2012
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An investment manager lost a £1.7 million bonus claim today after the High Court found that he had breached the terms of his employment contract by trying to poaching another employee over lunch.

Fahim Imam-Sadeque had been head of sales for the UK, Middle East and Australia at Royal Bank of Canada’s Bluebay Asset Management (Services), one of Europe’s largest managers of fixed income credit and alternative products.   He was paid nearly £2.5 million per year and managed assets of more than £24 billion.   But after announcing that he was to join a new asset management company, Goldbridge Capital Partners, as head of sales and marketing from January of this year, Imam-Sadeque was put on gardening leave by Bluebay in August last year.   Before leaving, however, he invited a colleague, Damian Nixon, out to lunch, following an email exchange. Although Imam-Sadeque denied trying to poach him, the judge, Mr Justice Popplewell, rejected his claim.   He said that the two men were friends as well as colleagues and that Imam-Sadeque had recruited Nixon to Bluebay. It was “the obvious candidate for making the first approach to him, to sound him out, and to talk to him in a way best suited to secure his ultimate recruitment, which was the desired objective”, the judge said.   This meant that the purpose of the lunch was to encourage Nixon to join Goldbridge, which he subsequently did, and to work out a timetable for doing so. As a result, the judge ruled that Imam-Sadeque was in “serious breach” of his terms of employment and that, if Bluebay had known, it could have dismissed him for gross misconduct.   Furthermore, Mr Justice Popplewell accused the investment manager of giving “unconvincing” and “false” evidence that was “not plausible”, “not credible” and “untrue”. This meant that he was not entitled to a bonus of £1.7 million and his claim must fail.   A spokesman for BlueBay said: “We are pleased with the Judgement of the High Court in this matter. BlueBay does not enjoy litigation. The firm does, however, require its Partners, employees and ex-employees to honour their obligations to the firm, to tell the truth and to meet certain standards of ethical behaviour.”    

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