BusinessWeek is reporting that Citigroup has sued its former executive-level employee, Gautam Hazarika, for allegedly transferring Citigroup's trade secrets to his new employer, Deutsche Bank AG, before joining the latter firm.
Citigroup’s suit comes after Merrill Lynch & Co. sued Deutsche Bank for allegedly raiding its bankers and misappropriating trade secrets last year and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc fired its Singapore-based chief currency trader in May last year for sending e-mails allegedly containing confidential data.
The cases highlight the intense rivalry among banks for bankers who can “bring across a decent book of clients,” said Siraj Omar, head of litigation at Premier Law LLC in Singapore, who isn’t involved in the suit. “The idea is to make things as difficult as possible for the bankers who are leaving, which is only logical from the banks’ perspective.”
Hazarika worked for Citigroup for 15 years, starting in India in 1994 before moving to Singapore in 2002, the court papers showed. He joined Deutsche Bank as the Singapore-based head of corporate flow sales for Asia, excluding Japan, from Citigroup, where he was Asia sales head of transactional foreign exchange, Deutsche Bank said in a Dec. 1 statement.
Citigroup’s Singapore-based spokesman Adam Rahman declined to comment, as did Deutsche Bank’s Mark Bennewith. Hazarika couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
There was “nothing sinister” in the e-mails Hazarika sent to himself nor did the clients’ list sent to Deutsche Bank contain privileged banking information, his court filing shows.
E-mails sent to the personal account were to facilitate working after office hours, Hazarika said in his affidavit.
“In my mind, I had done nothing wrong,” Hazarika said in the papers. “The e-mails I forwarded to my personal e-mail account would not have caused the plaintiff any damage tomorrow, or the day after or at any time in the future.”