(Bloomberg News) Bank of America Corp. won a court order temporarily blocking four former employees from using and sharing the bank's client records at their new employer, New York-based Dynasty Financial Partners.
Bank of America alleged Wednesday in a complaint in New York state court that taking the records from the bank's U.S. Trust unit to Dynasty Financial amounted to trade-secret theft. The employees claimed in their resignation letters that they were allowed to take the records under a voluntary recruiting agreement among brokers, according to the complaint.
Michael C. Brown, formerly a Bank of America financial advisor with $5.9 billion in client assets, and the other three defendants are temporarily blocked from "using or disclosing in any manner the customer lists and any other property or trade secret information taken at the time" of their resignation from U.S. Trust, according to a copy of the order signed by Justice Melvin L. Schweitzer and provided today by Bill Halldin, a Bank of America spokesman.
Steven Goldberg, a spokesman for Dynasty Financial, said in an e-mailed statement that the company is "pleased that the judge denied Bank of America's request to prevent Brown and his team from continuing to advise clients that want to work with them."
'Blatant Legal Tactic'
The suit is unnecessary and "a blatant legal tactic in an attempt to portray Mr. Brown and his team in a negative light," Goldberg said in the statement.
The temporary order directs the former employees to, pending a hearing, return customer lists and any other property to U.S. Trust. It also blocks them from "soliciting, inviting, encouraging, requesting" customer accounts that may have been "wrongfully solicited," according to the filing.
Halldin declined to comment.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, the biggest U.S. lender, said in its complaint that neither it nor U.S. Trust signed the agreement that the former employees argue allows them to use the client information, according to the complaint.
Bank of America said in court filings that the records reveal "comprehensive information regarding every aspect of a client or potential client's financial information," including bank account identification and names of advisers, accountants and attorneys.
The suit names as defendants Dynasty Financial, Brown, Charles F. Britton, Marcus Wilson and Amanda Kerley. Dynasty Financial, which offers technology and services for independent advisory firms, was founded by ex-Citigroup managers Todd Thomson and Shirl Penney.
U.S. Trust, founded a decade before the American Civil War, was purchased by Charles Schwab Corp. in 2000. Bank of America agreed to pay $3.3 billion for the business in 2006 to add to its units that manage the assets of wealthy Americans.
The case is Bank of America v. Michael C. Brown, 030283, New York Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).