City lunch for two cost investment manager 1.7m… after bosses found out he tried to poach another worker



13:00 GMT, 11 December 2012

Fahim Imam-Sadeque will not receive his bonus

Fahim Imam-Sadeque will not receive his bonus

It was a lunch that has undoubtedly left a bitter taste in his mouth.

A city high flyer lost a 1.7m bonus claim in the High Court today over what has been described as the world's most expensive lunch.

Fahim Imam-Sadeque, a 41-year-old investment manager on almost 2.5m a year, breached the terms of his contract by 'poaching' another employee after inviting him to lunch.

And because a judge ruled that the lunch must have included talk about whether the employee would join Mr Imam-Sadeque in a new firm, the senior employee lost his huge bonus.

And Mr Justice Popplewell who accused him of giving 'unconvincing' and false evidence, ruled he was not entitled to the bonus from his former employers Royal Bank of Canada owned BlueBay Asset Management (Services) Ltd. valued at a reputed 963m.

Mr Imam-Sadeque who was a senior employee at Bluebay from July 2004 until December 2011 denied trying to poach staff.

He was head of sales for the UK, Middle East and Australia for BlueBay, one of Europe's largest specialist managers of fixed-income credit and alternative products, managing assets of more than 24billion.

After agreeing to leave BlueBay for a new asset management company Goldbridge Capital Partners as head of sales and marketing from January this year, he was put on gardening leave in August last year.

But then BlueBay accused him of seeking to poach his colleague Damian Nixon and quote an e-mail exchange between the two when he invited him out for 'coffee' and then when told he was free from 11am to 4pm he replied 'OK, you can take me for lunch.'

He claims that was just an innocuous e-mail and denies seeking to poach his former colleague.

A judge ruled that the pair would have discussed business over lunch, and that the investment manager could not claim 1.7million

A judge ruled that the pair would have discussed business over lunch, and that the investment manager could not claim 1.7million

But the judge rejected his claim that there was no discussion over the lunch last July about Mr Nixon joining Goldbridge.

He said the two men were friends as well as colleagues and he had recruited Mr Nixon for BlueBay and 'was the obvious candidate for making the first approach to him, to sound him out, and to talk to him in a way best suited to secure his ultimate recruitment which was the desired objective .'

He ruled that the purpose of the lunch was to encourage him to join Goldberg, which he did, and work out a timetable for doing so.

He found Mr Imam-Sadeque to have been in 'serious breach' of his terms of employment and said if BlueBay knew then what it knows now he could have been dismissed for gross misconduct.

He said he was not entitled to the bonus and his claim must fail.

A spokesman for London based Bluebay, which also has offices in the US, Japan , Hong Kong and Luxembourg said: 'We are pleased with the Judgment of the High Court in this matter. BlueBay does not enjoy litigation.

'The firm does, however, require its Partners, employees and ex- employees to honour their obligations to the firm, to tell the truth and to meet certain standards of ethical behaviour.

'We note that the Judge found not only that Mr Imam-Sadeque's conduct was in serious breach of his obligations to the firm; but also that the sworn evidence he gave in Court was variously “unconvincing”, “not plausible”, “not credible”, “untrue” and “false”.

'We regard both the Judgment itself, and the specific findings in the Judgment in relation to elements of Mr Imam-Sadeque's evidence, as fully vindicating our decision robustly to defend the firm's interests in this matter.'