A former executive for five years at the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. alleges he was wrongly fired and retaliated against after he reported his supervisor’s potentially illegal acts to the bank’s in-house counsel.
John “Jack” Yang, former head of the Americas for the bank’s Alcentra NY unit, has filed suit in U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York seeking up to $16 million in damages. Alcentra NY, also a defendant, is an investment adviser and subsidiary that shares BNY Mellon’s legal, human resources and other services.
BNY Mellon referred questions to an Alcentra spokesman Thursday, who said, “We will not comment on any litigation beyond stating that we think the allegations are baseless and without merit.”
Yang’s attorney, Manisha Sheth of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, told Corporate Counsel, “Mr. Yang has been treated poorly by defendants here, particularly in light of all his good work at the company. We look forward to his day in court.”
Yang’s complaint shows his problems began around Aug. 21, 2018, at a meeting of Alcentra’s management committee in London. The meeting included Yang, Alcentra co-founder and CEO David Forbes-Nixon, then-chief investment officer Vijay Rajguru, and the company’s chief financial officer.
Forbes-Nixon had agreed in 2017 to a five-year collaboration with Stira Adviser, a non-BNY Mellon affiliate, to be a subadviser on a certain interval fund. Yang was placed on the board of trustees of the Stira fund.
Here is what happened next, according to the complaint:
At the 2018 management meeting, Forbes-Nixon and Rajguru criticized the lagging performance of the Stira fund. Forbes-Nixon called the collaboration a “mistake” and said Alcentra should resign as subadviser as soon as possible.
The CFO advised that immediate termination was not possible as Alcentra was obligated under the terms of its subadviser agreement to provide Stira with 90 days’ notice of resignation.
But “based on the tone of the meeting and the contents of the discussion, Mr. Yang believed that Mr. Forbes-Nixon and Mr. Rajguru had determined that the relationship with Stira Adviser must end immediately and were unwilling to tolerate any opposition.”