N.Y. financier's ex-employee agrees to reduced $5.6 million award

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 07, 2016 6:44 PM

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Swedish woman has agreed to accept a more than two-thirds reduction to an $18 million jury award in a lawsuit against a New York financier she accused of sexual harassment and defamation, her lawyer said on Thursday.

A lawyer for Hanna Bouveng, an ex-employee of New York Global Group Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Wey, said he had informed a Manhattan federal judge that his client had agreed to accept the reduced sum of $5.65 million rather than pursue a new damages trial.

U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe last week issued a ruling granting Wey a new damages trial unless Bouveng agreed to have her $18 million award be cut to the reduced sum.

The June 2015 jury award against Wey and his companies followed a trial in a lawsuit accusing Wey of coercing Bouveng into having sex, refusing his further advances and defaming her in a series of blog posts.

"We decided her best interest was to accept" the reduction, said Benedict Morelli, her lawyer, adding the award "is not a measly sum."

Edward Wipper, Wey's lawyer, in an email said the recent proceedings were a "vindication of Mr. Wey's position and a positive initial step in rectifying an unjust result."

Wey was separately indicted in September on federal securities fraud charges for engineering Chinese "reverse mergers" and then manipulating stock prices to earn tens of millions of dollars in illegal profits. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Bouveng trial garnered lurid tabloid headlines by pitting the young woman against a Wall Street financier about 20 years her senior.

At trial, lawyers for Bouveng contended that Wey had engaged in a relentless campaign of harassment after hiring her in 2013 when she was 24, buying her gifts and demanding sexual favors in return.

Bouveng's lawyers said Wey's actions led to sexual encounters before she rejected his further attempts, and that Wey fired her after discovering another man in her apartment, which he was helping to finance, in April 2014.

After she filed her civil lawsuit, Wey wrote several disparaging articles in an online publication, TheBlot, controlled by FNL Media, a New York Global Group subsidiary. Both companies were also defendants.

A lawyer for Wey at trial argued his client and Bouveng never had sex, and that Bouveng attempted to extort Wey after she was fired for substandard work.

The case is Bouveng v. NYG Capital LLC et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 14-cv-5475.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Chris Reese)