Ex-Deutsche Bank Executive in Asia Sues Lender for $17 Million

  • Douglas Morton files claims to Hong Kong labour tribunal
  • Banker suspended in 2015 for fund transfer to China venture

Douglas Morton, a former co-head of Asia corporate finance at Deutsche Bank AG, is suing the German firm for HK$135.3 million ($17 million) in a wrongful dismissal claim filed with Hong Kong’s labor tribunal.

The claim includes HK$84 million for loss of future income and HK$30 million in incentive compensation, with the remainder consisting of damages and legal costs, according to the April 22 filing. A separate High Court filing dated May 25 showed that the former banker is also seeking a declaration from Deutsche Bank that he had “not committed misconduct.”

Morton, 52, is seeking to clear his name after his suspension and subsequent departure from Deutsche Bank last year following an internal investigation into fund transfers he made to the firm’s China securities venture. The probe suggested Morton had allocated revenue to Zhong De Securities Co. for at least one deal the venture hadn’t worked on, people familiar with the matter said in July. Deutsche Bank bought 33 percent of Zhong De Securities in 2008.

Morton wants a declaration from the bank that he wasn’t “reckless or negligent” when he finalized a list of deals for revenue sharing with Zhong De Securities in 2012 and 2014, the High Court filing showed. The document shows that the Chinese venture issued an invoice to Deutsche Bank for 3.6 million euros ($4 million) in December 2014. Morton’s lawsuit is also seeking a declaration that the invoice did not contain “false and misleading information.”

“We entirely reject the claim made and will vigorously defend against it,” Amy Chang, a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman in Hong Kong, said in an e-mail. “As the matter is before the courts, the bank has no further comment.”

Morton declined to comment when reached by phone. A Zhong De official also declined to comment. It wasn’t clear whether the internal Deutsche Bank probe has been completed.

The lawsuit comes at a time when Deutsche Bank is grappling with its biggest management shakeup in more than a decade. Gunit Chadha, its Asia-Pacific chief executive officer, will leave next month, adding to a string of senior departures from the German lender over the past 12 months.

Morton is also seeking a declaration from Deutsche Bank that it “breached the employment contract” by terminating him, according to the High Court filing.

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