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BDO Lawsuit Alleges a Defector Took the Team With Him When He Jumped Ship to Another Firm

Employees on a conveyor belt leaving their jobs

BDO USA filed a federal trade secrets lawsuit against Ankura Consulting on Monday that alleges Ankura “unjustly enriched itself through the employee defections from BDO and stole the company’s confidential information.” The defections came in the form of several senior-level staff from BDO’s healthcare transaction advisory business who apparently left BDO with their national practice leader.

Reuters:

BDO also named as a defendant Phuoc Vin Phan, a former national practice leader of its healthcare transaction advisory team. Phan led the 11-member group from 2019 to January of this year, according to the lawsuit, before jumping to New York-based Ankura. The lawsuit alleged Phan broke his BDO employment agreement in the move.

The language used in this lawsuit is pretty incendiary. It alleges Ankura “set its sights on stealing the BDO Healthcare TAS practice rather than building a practice of its own from the ground up” and that it would use Phan to accomplish that goal.

As part of this scheme, while still a partner of BDO, Phan solicited at least seven of the 11 full-time employees in the Healthcare TAS practice—all of whom reported directly to him—to leave their employment with BDO and join Ankura. His conduct violated his fiduciary duty to BDO as well as the plain terms of his former partnership and employment agreements with BDO. These were all duties and commitments Ankura knew about.

Phan’s egregious misconduct did not end there. On his way out the door from BDO to Ankura, he stole or attempted to steal voluminous quantities of BDO’s confidential information and trade secrets as well as the confidential information of multiple BDO clients, with the goal of taking all of that information to Ankura and using it in his new job for the benefit of Ankura.

Three of the employees Phan solicited to leave BDO and join Ankura also stole or attempted to steal BDO’s confidential information and trade secrets and that of its clients and to take that information for Ankura. Two of them, Thomas Bradey (“Bradey”) and Mitchell Thomas (“Thomas”), were successful in their theft. They transferred substantial quantities of BDO’s confidential information and trade secrets to Ankura for Ankura’s financial gain.

All remain employed by Ankura today. Ankura, with Phan’s assistance, has stolen BDO’s Healthcare TAS practice. BDO now seeks a verdict that will require Ankura and Phan to pay for what they have stolen and to compensate BDO for the collateral harm their tortious conduct has caused.

BDO is seeking $60 million in damages and an injunction that would prevent Ankura from pulling another robbery off this caliber (note: we mean “robbery” in the meme sense, not in the “a crime was committed here” one). The lawsuit embedded below gives quite a bit of insight into BDO employment agreements and states Phan was unhappy with BDO changing from a partnership to a corporation structure last year, might be worth a deeper dive.

Per the lawsuit, Phan resigned from BDO on January 9, 2024 and subsequently told the firm he was taking a new position at Ankura. And then:

Between January 5 and January 12, 2024, seven of the then 11 full-time employees in BDO’s Healthcare TAS practice—all of whom directly reported to Phan—resigned from BDO. They are Johnny Beauplan (“Beauplan”), [Thomas] Bradey, Zachary Gentry (“Gentry”), Aram Gupta (“Gupta”), William Mixon (“Mixon”), Jeffrey O’Brien (“O’Brien”), and [Mitchell] Thomas.

You can read the rest:

Keep ya posted!

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