BofA Is Said to Dismiss Two Staffers in Probe of Omeed Malik
(Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp. dismissed two staffers for insufficiently disclosing information as it examined a complaint of inappropriate sexual conduct by Omeed Malik, a former prime brokerage executive, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Joe Voboril and Valerie Ludorf worked under Malik at the unit that services hedge funds, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the matter. Malik left the firm in January after a woman in her 20s claimed that he had made unwanted advances, a person with knowledge of the situation said at the time.
Bank of America “discharged” him on Jan. 9 because of “personal conduct in violation of firm standards, including interfering with the firm’s review of the matter,” the company wrote in regulatory records seen by Bloomberg. On Wednesday, Malik’s attorney disputed that assertion, and a lawyer for Voboril said he cooperated with the bank’s investigation.
“Mr. Malik has not engaged in any sexual harassment and has not interfered with Bank of America’s review of the matter,” said his lawyer, Mark Lerner at Kasowitz Benson Torres. “Any allegation that he did so is false.”
Lerner said the bank ignored and suppressed evidence from employees that showed the accusations weren’t credible, and that the firm instead set out to destroy Malik’s career. “We expect to present evidence that will show that the bank’s actions against Mr. Malik, who is of Middle Eastern descent, were part of a pattern of discrimination in which white males at the bank have been protected and rewarded -- including those alleged to have engaged in misconduct in excess of anything Mr. Malik was falsely accused of,” Lerner said in an email.
An attorney for Voboril said he cooperated with the inquiry. “He was fully forthright and the firm never told him that he failed to disclose information or cover anything up,” said the lawyer, Kim Michael at Wechsler & Cohen LLP. “We believe the real reason he was terminated was part of Bank of America’s attempt to discredit anyone whose truthful answers didn’t fit into the bank’s narrative about Omeed.”
Ludorf didn’t respond to requests for comment. Bill Halldin, a spokesman for Bank of America, declined to comment.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Wednesday that two Bank of America staffers were dismissed, without naming them.
Malik’s departure followed a roughly three-week inquiry, which included interviews with other staff that turned up additional concerns, a person with knowledge of the situation said last month.
Malik was a managing director with a variety of senior responsibilities within the prime brokerage. He led capital strategy globally and oversaw origination in the Americas for the unit, according to a public biography.
Voboril, 39, joined Bank of America’s prime brokerage in August 2015 after working at a few hedge funds, according to his LinkedIn profile. Ludorf, a 26-year-old associate, was hired in 2014. Prior to that she had been a summer analyst at the bank, her LinkedIn profile shows. Prime brokerages provide financing and administrative services such as lending, clearing trades and record-keeping, which helps managers run their hedge funds.
The dismissals come as the global #MeToo movement spreads across the artistic and political realms and, increasingly, the financial industry, prompting women to call attention to egregious behavior by powerful men, sharing their stories of sexual misconduct and gender inequity.
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