AQR's Ex-Head of Trading Sues Broker He Says Derailed His Career

(Bloomberg) -- Hitesh Mittal lost his job three years ago as head of trading at hedge fund AQR Capital Management after being ensnared in a regulatory probe that involved his previous employer.

Now, Mittal says the Securities and Exchange Commission has cleared him of wrongdoing and he’s seeking redemption against Investment Technology Group Inc., the brokerage firm he blames for destroying his Wall Street career.

Mittal, ITG’s former head of liquidity management, sued his former employer in a Monday complaint that accuses the firm of publicly implicating him over its own misconduct. The dispute stems from an August 2015 settlement in which ITG agreed to pay $20.3 million to settle SEC allegations that it ran a secret unit that took advantage of client orders to trade for its own benefit.

The ITG division involved in the SEC case had been run by Mittal, who left the firm in 2011. His Monday lawsuit said that ITG’s “false and disparaging statements” prompted AQR to terminate him, costing him millions of dollars in annual pay and a promotion to partner. He is seeking unspecified monetary damages from ITG.

“Mr. Mittal’s reputation was tarnished substantially,” his complaint said. “He has been forced to spend years clearing his name, and continues to spend time and money attempting to do so.”

“Mr. Mittal left the firm seven years ago and we don’t comment about pending legal matters,” said ITG spokesman J.T. Farley.

In his complaint, Mittal said he successfully demonstrated his innocence to the SEC, prompting the agency to close an investigation into him without any allegations of wrongdoing.

SEC spokesman Chris Carofine declined to comment.

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