UBS Financial Services has gone to federal court to seek a restraining order against an advisory team managing $1.6 billion that flew the coop and headed to RBC early last month.

UBS said that the Princeton, N.J., team, led by Michael Gara, breached their contract with the bank and violated confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements when they suddenly quit on May 7. The team works under the name Princeton Financial Partners.

According to UBS’s filing for injunctive relief, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on May 28, “Gara (in concert with his team) egregiously violated his duty of loyalty as well as his non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements while still employed at UBS in order to try and move the $1.58 billion in client assets that they managed at UBS to their new employer, RBC Wealth Management. … On information and belief, the team received a lucrative transition deal from RBC, with Gara alone receiving over $7 million to join RBC.”

The deal has already seen a massive amount of money in play, according to UBS, which said that by close of business on May 27 it had already received requests from Gara’s clients to transfer $744 million in assets. The bank said that Gara and his team were bound by contracts not to solicit UBS clients for a period of 12 months after their resignations. It claimed Gara and his team called clients before their departure, setting up “reviews” of their accounts, and that they ramped up this activity in the weeks before their departure.

“Specifically, his calendar for the two weeks prior to his resignation on May 7, 2021, shows 14 appointments with many [of his] largest clients. These clients have combined household assets of $85.6 million,” UBS said in its court filing. Account transfers started almost immediately after the team resigned, and within three business days, UBS claims, there had been $465 million in securities transfer requests to RBC.

UBS claims that Gara and his team are in possession of a client list packed with 270 names and addresses, and that Gara requested a printed list in January with the pretext that he was sending out New Year’s cards. These cards were never actually sent, UBS said.

Gara’s team includes advisors who, like himself, are veterans of Morgan Stanley and Prudential. Following him were financial advisors Bruce Berman, Chad Goerner and Dustin Illgen, along with client service associates Jessica Ovrutsky, Claudia Peppard and Michele Nitti. Gara said in a statement following his move to RBC that the team serves multi-generational wealthy families.

UBS says the team spent the weeks leading up to their resignations gathering confidential client documents and taking printed out lists of confidential client information, snubbing their contractual obligations in the process. The bank also says the firm scheduled meetings with key clients for the days after their defection. UBS said this amounted to Gara and his team “orchestrating” his departure with clients so that UBS couldn’t hang on to them. The bank says that the team’s actions caused “tremendous harm to UBS.”

“[The] defendant had access to hundreds of UBS clients, with over $1.58 billion in assets under management, and generating over $7.6 million in annual revenues for UBS,” the filing says. Gara himself generated over $3.56 million of his team’s total revenue, UBS said.

Furthermore, the team is still calling itself “Princeton Financial Partners,” which UBS calls “a blatant attempt to further infringe upon the goodwill developed at, and with the support of, UBS.”

According to UBS’s petition for relief, it understands that RBC offered the defecting team members rich transition deals: an up-front cash payment equal to 180% of their annual revenue, and a possible increase of 150% of annual revenue if they hit revenue and asset targets. The bank said that Gara is thus likely receiving $7.4 million to move and could make another $5.3 million if his team hits the back-end targets. The complaint also says RBC offered to replace any deferred compensation he lost at UBS.

The case is automatically subject to mandatory arbitration by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, but if UBS receives an injunctive relief order from a court, the Finra panel of arbitrators will convene a hearing in 15 days. Without such relief, the panel could take months to convene, the bank says.

Among the items of relief UBS is asking for is that the court stop Gara and his team from soliciting UBS clients that he performed work for during the 12 months before their resignations.

Gara and Princeton Financial Partners had not returned a call seeking comment by press time.