Bloomberg News

Cargill Bonus Plan Limits Stifle Competition, Ex-Trader Claims

August 01, 2011

Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Cargill Inc., the biggest agricultural company in the U.S., broke Singapore’s public policy rules with bonus plan restrictions that were too broad and stifled competition, a former trader claimed in a lawsuit.

Vikrant Mano Singh sought to recover $1.74 million in deferred bonuses that he lost after he quit Cargill’s trade and structured finance unit in Singapore in November 2008. A closed hearing on the lawsuit filed in Singapore High Court is scheduled for tomorrow.

Cargill, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, forbade some staff that left from continuing a career within the financial or commodity trading industries for two years, including at companies that compete with Cargill for employees, clients or market share, according to court papers. The “extremely wide” clauses were unrestricted in geography and amount to a restraint of trade, Singh said in the lawsuit.

Singh said in court papers he was entitled to the bonus “as a result of my enterprise, hard work and more importantly exceptionally good results coming from my performance.”

The former trader should return $1.86 million he received in bonuses because he broke the terms of his contract by setting up Xangbo, a competitor, while still employed, Cargill said in court papers. Cargill also has demanded that Singh return confidential information he took from the firm, according to the court papers.

Deferred Bonuses

Former employees didn’t have to comply with the two-year non-competition clause if they gave up their deferred bonuses, Cargill said.

Singh said he had developed Cargill’s strategy for China and other countries in Asia Pacific outside India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, according to his lawsuit, a claim denied by Cargill.

The trader, who moved to Singapore in 2003 from Minnesota, was under a deferred bonus scheme where half of his bonus would be paid out in cash and the rest over three years, according to the court papers. Singh was last paid an annual salary of S$325,000 ($270,000) and a bonus of $3.2 million.

Philip Jeyaretnam, who represents Singh, and Cargill’s lawyer Blossom Hing, declined to comment because the litigation is ongoing.

The case is Mano Vikrant Singh v Cargill TSF Asia Pte Ltd. OS103/2011 in the Singapore High Court.

--Editors: Joe Schneider, Douglas Wong

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at atan17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net


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