Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

BMO Nesbitt Burns sued by former staffer

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A successful and popular Winnipeg financial adviser is suing a local investment firm and its manager, alleging they hired him only to get his lucrative client base and then fired him.

Douglas Warkentin alleges he was fired without cause from BMO Nesbitt Burns in January after starting work there in August. He alleges he was hired by the local manager, Colin Ryan, so Ryan could take away his lucrative, $70-million client base.

In a statement of claim filed recently in Court of Queen's Bench, Warkentin states there is a pending investigation against him by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), which oversees and regulates the conduct of investment advisers and investment firms, as a result of his action to falsify a document while working for Wellington West.

He admits he did that before joining BMO Nesbitt Burns.

That action to falsify a document resulted in Wellington West letting him go in July 2011, Warkentin states, before the company was bought by National Bank, which he states did not want him to be part of their operation.

Warkentin states he fully disclosed to BMO Nestbitt Burns and Ryan all details of the document falsification. They hired him just the same and also gave him a $612,500 signing bonus -- which now has to be repaid.

Warkentin said he was called into Ryan's office in late January, where he alleges Ryan presented him with a letter terminating him without cause but alleges Ryan states the real reason for his termination was that he had only learned for the first time the details about the document falsification.

Warkentin states he brought almost his entire $70-million book of business to BMO Nesbitt Burns when it hired him, and alleges that after he was terminated, Ryan assigned staff in an effort to retain his book of business.

The allegations have not been proven in court. Statements of defence have not been filed by Ryan nor BMO Nesbitt Burns.

Warkentin is seeking unspecified general, punitive and aggravated damages from BMO Nesbitt Burns and Ryan.

The Manitoba Securities Commission said Warkentin's registration to trade securities was suspended following his termination by BMO Nesbitt Burns. Before that, however, the securities commission had imposed conditions on his registration in late December 2009 that required his employer to strictly supervise his activity.

Warkentin states after he was terminated, BMO expected him to repay the signing bonus, which had been presented as a forgivable loan that would come due if he resigned or was terminated before the loan was forgiven.

Warkentin is asking the court whether he has to repay the loan, alleging BMO breached its contractual obligations to him.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 21, 2012 B3

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