BofA Fired Trader to Avoid Paying Bonus, Lawyer Says

Bank of America Corp. fired a trader who brought in three-quarters of its Asian distressed debt trading group profits to avoid paying a performance bonus, her lawyer said on the first day of trial in the case.

Sunny Tadjudin is seeking HK$28.3 million ($3.7 million) based on the average of 16.6 percent of her profit contribution, a percentage she received in bonuses for 2002 to 2004, attorney Graham Harris said yesterday at the Hong Kong High Court.

Tadjudin, fired in August 2007 for alleged failings including poor communication, received lower bonuses than she deserved in 2005 and 2006 due to arbitrary performance reviews, her lawyer said. She got no bonus in 2007 despite generating 76 percent of the group’s $28.6 million in profits in the 30-month period, he said.

“She was delivering profits,” Harris said. The bank’s “scandalous and unconscionable conduct,” breached implied terms of her employment contract, he said. “She was entitled to be paid bonuses which represented her profits.”

The 50-year-old Indonesian Chinese woman won the right to a trial in 2010 when the court of appeal overturned a dismissal of her claim.

Harris said a separate claim of sexual discrimination against the bank in another court was delayed until the resolution of this case. Adrian Huggins, the bank’s lawyer, had argued that those allegations should play no part in the current matter.

No Payoff

“These are inflammatory issues whose purpose is to embarrass the bank and pressure us to pay her off, which we’re not going to do,” Huggins said.

Mark Tsang, a Hong Kong spokesman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, declined to comment on the case.

Tadjudin claims her evaluation in 2005 was lowered after she reported that John Liptak, a colleague, transferred a losing position from his portfolio, lowering her bonus. In 2006, she received half the bonus that Liptak did, despite his losing portfolio and her profitable one.

Liptak, promoted to be her manager, “engineered” Tadjudin’s dismissal so he could take over her profitable portfolio and to avoid paying her a bonus, Harris said.

Tadjudin’s contract implied that her performance evaluation shouldn’t be irrational or perverse, he said.

Liptak, who left the bank in 2009, is scheduled to testify in the trial and didn’t respond to three e-mails requesting comment.

Judge Anthony To today rejected an application by Tadjudin to use documents her lawyer said would help rebut the bank’s assertions that she was a poor team player.

The case is Tadjudin Sunny v. Bank of America, National Association, HCA322/2008 in Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance. The discrimination case is DCEO4/2009 in Hong Kong District Court.

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