Top Fund Manager Fired by M&G After Groping, Harassment Claims

(Bloomberg) -- M&G Plc dismissed Ben Jones, a top fund manager, after an internal investigation found he had failed to meet the company’s behavior codes.

“This week we confirmed to clients that we have recently dismissed a senior individual whose conduct fell short of the standards we expect here,” M&G Chief Executive Officer John Foley said in a memo sent to staff on Thursday, without naming the individual. The U.K. asset manager started the probe after a Bloomberg News article reported allegations that an executive had sexually harassed young women over several years.

That individual was Jones, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing personnel matters. Jones ran the firm’s 8 billion pound ($10.5 billion) long lease real estate business.

Whilst I take any allegation of misconduct and the feelings of those affected by it extremely seriously, I am deeply disappointed by this outcome which comes in the wake of media reports containing misleading, exaggerated and simply untrue statements,” Jones said in a statement provided by his lawyer. “It also follows an internal investigation which, I believe, has been conducted in a fashion which raises serious questions about the process and, inevitably, the outcome. I am therefore considering my legal options.”

Bloomberg reported in October that the fund manager allegedly inundated junior female colleagues with sexually explicit text messages, inappropriate comments, and unwanted physical contact including kissing and groping. One woman said she reported his behavior to the firm’s human resources managers multiple times.

Also in October, M&G, which manages about 275 billion pounds of assets on behalf of retail and institutional investors, hired law firm Baker McKenzie to investigate the specific allegations raised in the article.

Bloomberg’s October article reported allegations by a woman who frequently dealt with the senior manager that he would often put his hand on her bottom, fondle her thighs and give her unsolicited shoulder massages. When she asked him to stop, she said, he would refuse and complain she was being uptight, or say he had touched her by accident. A second woman made similar allegations.

Independent Review

M&G hired PricewaterhouseCoopers in December to carry out an independent review of behaviors following the article, which also exposed a wider culture of sexual harassment and heavy drinking at the firm.

Another woman who worked in various parts of the business said in the October article that she had experienced sexual harassment in one form or another on all the desks where she worked. She also didn’t complain to HR because was worried about the impact on her career.

“We confirm an individual has been dismissed from M&G for reasons of misconduct,” spokeswoman Alexandra Ranson said. “We can also confirm that we have asked PwC to carry out an independent review of behaviours, key policies and practices across our business.”

A cached version of M&G’s website from Jan. 9 listed Jones alongside other colleagues on the long lease real estate team. He has since been removed from that page of contacts.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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