Bloomberg News

Ex-Cerberus Managing Director Settles Retaliation Lawsuit (1)

May 24, 2013

Cerberus Capital Management LP settled a suit filed by a former managing director who claimed she was wrongfully fired after trying to correct misleading marketing materials.

Lisa Marie Vioni sued Cerberus in Manhattan federal court in April, claiming the New York private-equity firm provided investors in a residential mortgage-backed securities fund with letters and other documents “which materially misrepresented the fund’s performance.”

Vioni said she was hired in January 2012 and led marketing efforts for the fund. She claimed she reported misleading fee and incentive allocations in documents provided to investors. She also alleged that Cerberus failed to tell investors that a client of the firm held most of the assets in the fund, raising potential liquidity concerns.

The settlement became public today in a court filing to discontinue the suit. Terms of the settlement are confidential.

Vioni claimed she discovered that one institutional client of Cerberus held a total of 72 percent of the fund, which appeared to have been concealed from other investors.

After reporting the allegedly misleading materials, Vioni was subject to “harassment and disparate treatment,” including exclusion from investor meetings and lengthy deferrals of discretionary bonuses, which made up much of her income, Vioni said. Vioni was also demoted and assigned secretarial duties, she said in the lawsuit.

Lower Pay

She claimed she was paid less than similarly situated male employees and was subject to a burdensome noncompetition agreement.

The firm terminated Vioni in February without notice or cause, she said.

Vioni’s lawyer, Corey Stark, declined to comment on the settlement. Peter Duda, a Cerberus spokesman with the firm Weber Shandwick, didn’t immediately return a phone message.

Cerberus, founded by Steve Feinberg, oversees more than $20 billion.

The case is Vioni v. Cerberus Capital Management LP, 13-cv-02276, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporters on this story: Bob Van Voris in federal court in Manhattan at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net; Christie Smythe in Brooklyn, New York, at csmythe1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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