A portfolio manager was unfairly dismissed by wealth firm Creechurch Capital, which allegedly falsified records in its dealings with two clients, an employment tribunal has found.
Robert Sutton, who worked at the Isle of Man-based firm from 2013 until February 2016, took Creechurch to court saying his dismissal was ‘a retaliatory act’ aimed at disparaging his character.
The Isle of Man employment tribunal ruled in favour of Sutton in May 2017 saying he was ‘automatically unfairly dismissed because of protected disclosures he had made’ and added that compensation would be determined at a later date. This ruling was published this month.
Creechurch, led by former Wealth Manager cover star John Greenwood, stated that it dismissed Sutton for using instant messaging app WhatsApp to communicate with clients – which the firm considered gross misconduct.
However, the tribunal found that the reason for his dismissal was because he discussed concerns about the company with the regulator, the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority (FSA), earlier regarding two protected disclosures.
The first was a suspicious transaction report made to the firm’s compliance officer on 29 May 2015 detailing his concern that Creechurch was falsifying records in relation to two clients. The second was the fact he had spoken to and assisted the FSA on 10 December 2015 during a three-day routine inspection. A subsequent FSA report stated that it was concerned that its findings ‘may be indicative of a lack of fitness and propriety at Creechurch’.
Sutton alleged that Creechurch had attempted to make him a ‘scapegoat’ and tried to paint him as a ‘lone rogue’. He contended this was to deflect attention from other failures at the firm.
Greenwood told Wealth Manager: ‘We’re deeply disappointed with the decision of the tribunal. We engaged an external HR consultant to advise on the dismissal and have followed the advice of highly-regarded legal professionals throughout the tribunal process and despite the final decision, we still believe our original grounds and decision to dismiss were justified.
‘Although the matter in question was two years ago, we endeavour to learn and improve our business from every experience. We’ve continued to invest heavily in our talented and professional team, infrastructure and compliance to ensure we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards for our clients.’