Sunday, September 24, 2023
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Competing Businesses Get Nasty

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A money management firm says its former chief investment officer schemed for months to steal its client lists and other proprietary information and then poached employees to open a competing business while disparaging his former employer.

The Trust Company of the West (TCW) says it fired Jeffrey Gundlach when it found out he had been planning to leave and open his own firm. On the day it fired him, company officials found pornography and marijuana in Gundlach's office. According to the Superior Court complaint.

TCW demand $200 million from Gundlach and his new firm, DoubleLine Capital. Also named as defendants are Barbara Vanevery, Jeffrey Mayberry and Chris Santa Ana -former TCW employees who allegedly helped Gundlach swipe company secrets.

"Doubleline is entirely the product of defendants' theft of TCW property," the company states. It claims Gundlach and others stole "vast quantities of TCW proprietary information, including all the information that would be needed to start the new business, including detailed information about TCW's clients."

Gundlach announced the opening of DoubleLine in December 2009 in a series of Web casts, during which he misrepresented his termination from TCW and made false claims about the company in an attempt to "incite" TCW clients to jump ship and come to DoubleLine, according to the complaint.

TCW says it had suspected Gundlach of planning an exodus for months but he denied it. After managers found proof that Gundlach and others had stolen company secrets, they fired Gundlach and then found marijuana, drug paraphernalia and "a collection of 12 sexual devices, 34 hardcore pornographic magazines and 36 hardcore sexually explicit DVDs and videocassettes" in his office, TCW claims.

Gundlach and DoubleLine denied the charges in a statement released last week and said they will countersue.

"The allegations in the complaint are meritless and will be proven so in a court of law," DoubleLine said. "TCW's lawsuit is a blatant attempt to damage DoubleLine's business and clients. DoubleLine and Mr. Gundlach are asserting their legal rights in a lawsuit to be filed shortly, which will demonstrate the thoroughly baseless nature of TCW's claims and seek redress for TCW's deplorable conduct. The false and hyperbolic personal attacks by TCW are obviously a gratuitous and irrelevant gutter tactic, which merely underscores the weakness of TCW's claims."

TCW seeks damages for breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets and other charges.

It is represented by John Quinn with Quinn Emanuel.

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