Fired BofA Trader’s Manager Rebuffs Loss-Dumping Claim

The former manager of a Bank of America Corp. trader in Hong Kong who alleges he engineered her dismissal rejected a suggestion he knew that assets transferred to her portfolio from his were mispriced.

“I completely disagree,” John Liptak told the Hong Kong High Court yesterday. He was responding to questions from the lawyer of Sunny Tadjudin, who is seeking HK$28.3 million ($3.7 million) from the bank.

Tadjudin, fired in 2007, says she deserves the unpaid bonuses after generating three quarters of the bank’s Asia distressed-debt group’s profits from 2005 to 2007. Liptak maneuvered to get her fired so he could take over her profitable portfolio and avoid paying her a bonus, she claims.

Liptak said he had recommended selling the position that was transferred in 2005, which he wouldn’t have done if he had anything to hide. Tadjudin claims that after reporting the assets were mismarked, her evaluation was lowered on the same day in retaliation, lowering her bonus that year. Her 2007 firing was to avoid paying her a bonus, she claims.

Liptak, who no longer works for Bank of America, testified today he had “absolutely” no reason for not wanting Tadjudin to do well.

He said yesterday he had considered problems with her couldn’t be resolved even before Tadjudin’s performance-improvement plan was implemented in mid-2007.

‘Tedious Formality’

Graham Harris, Tadjudin’s lawyer, suggested that Liptak had told the human-resources department that the bank would be more comfortable if she left -- even if she met all the goals stipulated in the plan -- and regarded it as “a tedious formality.”

“Whether I gave it hope or not, the way I approached it,” the goals had to be met “100 percent, it can’t be 98 percent or 95 percent,” Liptak said when Harris said that Tadjudin had met the goals set.

Tommy Fung, the bank’s Hong Kong-based head of compensation and benefits, testified last week that he had received an e-mail from Liptak indicating he’d wanted to get rid of Tadjudin. Fung said that had she made the required improvements there would have been no reason to fire her.

Tadjudin earlier rejected arguments by Bank of America’s lawyer that she was fired because of poor conduct, saying that criticisms of her in a 2006 performance development plan were “documenting” information to be used with human resources if necessary.

Can’t Recall

The 50-year-old Chinese Indonesian won a bid to have the case heard at trial in 2010 when an appeals court overturned a dismissal of her claim. A separate claim of sexual discrimination against the bank in another court is delayed until the resolution of this case.

Liptak in cross-examination yesterday and on Jan. 24, said he didn’t recall details of many of the incidents from 2001 to 2007 that Harris asked him about.

When Harris suggested that he was looking for reasons for Tadjudin not to meet her plan-goals such as her taking a day’s leave without telling him first, Liptak replied that there couldn’t be any shortfall.

“She’d used up the goodwill of the bank by that stage,” he said. “I’m not personally emotionally attached,” he said when asked. “I look at it purely as business.”

He rejected suggestions by Harris that he was concerned about Tadjudin outperforming him or not giving him due respect as head of desk.

“I wasn’t expecting people to stand up and salute,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who sits in the seat, you have to respect the structure.”

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

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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