JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) sued to have one of its former financial advisers found in contempt after he allegedly suggested the bank overcharged clients as he tried to lure them to join him at Morgan Stanley (MS).
Salvatore Alesia violated a previous court order prohibiting such conduct, JPMorgan Chase said in papers filed Monday in Manhattan state court.
Alesia worked for JPMorgan Chase at its Melville, New York, office until his “abrupt resignation” on March 27, the bank said in its petition. The former investment employee then immediately joined a Melville office of Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan said.
Alesia said in an earlier legal dispute over his departure that he quit after JPMorgan Chase warned him he was at risk of being fired, citing concerns about his productivity.
“If JPMorgan believes that my performance was so unsatisfactory that I should have faced termination, JPMorgan should not be able to prevent me from continuing to work at my new employer,” Alesia said in March.
JPMorgan Securities is a signatory to a decade-old financial industry accord called “The Protocol for Broker Recruiting,” which allows advisers to leave one firm for another and take basic client information, including names, contact details and account types, Alesia said.
Not only did he violate the agreement, Alesia sent a news article to the former clients indicating they “may not be aware of all the fees they are charged,” the bank said. He also lied in an e-mail to a former client on Dec. 8 by “implying that JPMorgan charges its clients “‘hidden’ fees,” the bank said in its the petition.
When Alesia joined JPMorgan in 2007, he had no brokerage experience and no clients, the bank said. Alesia had about 30 clients by the time he left, according to the bank.
“JPMorgan has invested substantial time and money, totaling millions of dollars, to acquire, develop and maintain its customers over many years,” the bank said. If not for his previous job, Alesia “would not have had any contact with any clients the firm assigned to him.”
A customer who was not named in the petition forwarded the bank unsolicited e-mails she received from Alesia, including the Dec. 8 message describing fees and a Dec. 18 Bloomberg News article describing its more than $300 million settlement with federal regulators over whether it adequately disclosed conflicts of interest.
The largest U.S. bank by assets failed to tell customers that it reaped profits by putting their money into mutual funds and hedge funds that generated fees for the company, the Securities and Exchange Commission said. The bank also settled a parallel action by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
“I thought you might find this of interest,” Alesia wrote in the e-mail to the customer, according to the petition. “Such a scare tactic is clearly designed to interfere with JPMorgan’s relationship with its client,” JPMorgan said.
The bank is seeking sanctions against Alesia and costs of bringing the suit.
The case is JPMorgan Chase Bank NA v. Alesia, 163047-2015, New York State Supreme Court. New York County (Manhattan).