Life insurer Prudential Assurance Company Singapore is suing former agency leader Peter Tan Shou Yi after 244 of its agents jumped ship to rival firm Aviva as seeks claims as high as S$2.5bn
Aviva Singapore had prepared a war chest of S$100m to S$150m to poach 250 top agents from Prudential, the High Court heard on Tuesday in a high-stakes lawsuit, local media reported.
Prudential is claiming "significant and long-lasting loss" over alleged poaching by Tan, which resulted in 70,000 policies left with no agents, in the first litigation fallout from such a dispute. It estimates its losses in profits to be around S$300m if the agents had stayed for ten years; and if they stayed in perpetuity, the losses would amount to S$2.5bn.
As a result of [Tan's] wrongdoing, Prudential Assurance Company Singapore has suffered significant and long-lasting loss and injury due to reduced productivity and lost profits from the mass defection"
Prudential alleges that its former star group agency manager Peter Tan Shou Yi had instigated 221 agents and 23 agency leaders at his agency Peter Tan Organisation (PTO) to defect en masse to Aviva's subsidiary Aviva Financial Advisers in mid-2016, adding that Aviva "furnished a war chest of at least S$100m to S$150m" to recruit an expected base of 250 agents.
It claims that the 54-year-old had breached his contractual and fiduciary duties when he carried out the poaching while he was still a Prudential agency leader.
If he could get another 100 agents on board, he would receive an annual bonus as well, said Prudential's lawyers from Rajah & Tann, led by Mr K. Muralidharan Pillai, in an opening statement.
Tan had at least 12 meetings with the agents including the one in Guangzhou where attendance was mandatory, gave extensive presentations, promised those who left with him loyalty bonuses while threatening the future of those who remained, the court heard, the Business Times reports.
"As a result of [Tan's] wrongdoing, Prudential Assurance Company Singapore has suffered significant and long-lasting loss and injury due to reduced productivity and lost profits from the mass defection," said Prudential's lawyers, the Strait Times added.
Tan, through his lawyers, is counterclaiming that Prudential terminated his service in an invalid manner, causing him loss and damage as well.