GFI Sues Ex-Trainee Broker Over Confidential Data E-Mails

GFI Group Inc. sued a former trainee broker in Singapore for e-mailing data to himself before informing the company that he planned to quit and join a rival.

Thomas Lee Jong Hyuk “surreptitiously” sent sensitive details from his work e-mail to a personal account from May 24 to July 2, the Singapore unit of GFI, which arranges trades between banks, said in a lawsuit filed in the city’s high court. The details included trading activity of GFI’s Asian currency derivatives and client contacts, the company said.

Interdealer brokers have sued each other over the poaching of staff, as well as employees for violating hiring agreements when they defect. Lee, who worked on GFI’s Korean won derivatives desk, told the firm on July 3 that he was quitting and planned to join ICAP Plc, according to the lawsuit filed July 5. Lee joined New York-based GFI in Singapore in March on a minimum two-year contract.

Lee hasn’t filed his defense and didn’t reply to two e-mails today and yesterday seeking comment. Patricia Gutierrez, a GFI spokeswoman, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“I can swear I don’t have any other bad intention,” Lee said in an e-mail to GFI on July 9 that was cited in the broker’s court filings. “I didn’t forward the files to others.”

Unspecified Damages

Lee said he sent the files to himself to review so he could provide better service to clients, according to the e-mails cited by GFI.

GFI terminated Lee’s contract on July 5 and filed a complaint with Singapore police the same day. It is seeking S$110,212 ($87,000) from Lee for quitting without giving notice and other unspecified damages.

“I am concerned that Thomas could have been forwarding the confidential information with the intention of sharing it with ICAP,” John Darby, GFI’s head of legal and compliance in Singapore, said in court filings. “The consequences of this are serious.”

The case “is a matter between GFI and their ex-employee,” ICAP spokeswoman Serra Balls said. “The person is not and has never been employed by ICAP.”

The case is GFI Group Pte v Lee Jong Hyuk, S592/2013. Singapore High Court.

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