Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second- largest lender, was sued by 10 former employees at its Dresdner Kleinwort unit in Singapore claiming they were entitled to S$9.5 million ($7.7 million) in bonuses.
The former workers at the investment bank claimed they were given false assurances and induced to stay on because of the proposed bonus to be paid in January 2009, according to a lawsuit filed with the Singapore High Court in July.
“Dresdner Bank was entitled to reduce its employees’ 2008 discretionary bonuses in the light of the marked deterioration in the investment bank’s performance in late 2008,” Commerzbank said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The German lender will “vigorously” defend against the claims, it added.
Commerzbank has also been sued by former Dresdner bankers in London and Frankfurt over prospective 2008 bonuses. Commerzbank, which sought 18.2 billion euros ($25 billion) from the German state after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed in 2008, acquired Dresdner Bank AG in January 2009.
Dresdner’s investment-banking operations posted a 6.3 billion-euro loss for 2008.
Kenneth Tan, a lawyer for the former employees, declined to comment on the Singapore lawsuit.
The former employees based in Singapore were informed in December 2008 of their target bonus, which ranged from S$233,099 to S$3.7 million, according to the court filing.
Cut by E-Mail
In February 2009, Commerzbank Chief Executive Officer Martin Blessing sent employees an e-mail announcing the cut in bonus for 2008, according to the court papers.
“The board promised something and the board has somehow failed to deliver this,” Blessing wrote in the internal e-mail according to the lawsuit. “We, my colleagues and I, also have to fight to rebuild the trust that we have shattered with this decision.”
Commerzbank is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, calling the claims “scandalous” and “vexatious,” according to its defense filed last month.
The case is Daniel John Brader & Ors v Commerzbank AG S486/2011 in the Singapore High Court.
--Editors: Douglas Wong, Dave McCombs
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