Credit Suisse Securities was ordered to pay at least $6.67 million in compensatory damages, attorneys' fees and other costs to two former brokers following a decision by a three-person Financial Industry Regulatory Authority panel this week.
In their claim, the New York-based brokers, Anna Sarai Winderbaum and Joseph Todd Lerner, requested at least $3.6 million in unpaid earned deferred compensation after Credit Suisse shut down its U.S. private banking unit in 2015.
Winderbaum and Lerner spent 12 years working at Credit Suisse Securities USA, deciding to move to Morgan Stanley after the brokerage's closure rather than join Wells Fargo & Co. as part of an exclusive recruiting agreement between the two firms.
Credit Suisse initially issued counterclaims in the case, saying Winderbaum and Lerner were not entitled to "vesting or delivery of their unvested contingent deferred awards."
“We continue to believe that no one is entitled to receive the same dollar twice, and we will continue to defend our Bank against meritless attempts to do so, as we have in many other proceedings where former brokers have abandoned such claims," said Karina Byrne, spokesperson for Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC. "We believe this recent decision is flawed, as it ignores the governing contracts and the industry standard 'make whole' process under which proper financial incentives are maintained and the economic interests of employees are protected.”
Some other former Credit Suisse brokers have been successful in claims for deferred compensation since leaving the firm in 2015, including Brian Chilton, another Morgan Stanley broker based in Boston, who was awarded $844,000 late last year for a similar breach of contract claim.