Paul Weiss defends itself against $80m claim by ex-Citigroup exec

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison is being sued to the tune of $80m (£40.25m) by a former Citigroup executive, who claims the firm breached conflict of interest rules.

Paul Weiss advised Citigroup on its 2004 severance package deal with the former co-head of the bank’s private wealth management group David Trautenberg. The deal saw Trautenberg leave with a $5m (£2.52m) package.

One of Trautenberg’s key clients was WorldCom chief Bernard Ebbers, who in July 2005 was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the corporate accounting fraud that led to WorldCom’s collapse.

Trautenberg’s suit alleges that Paul Weiss lawyers learnt confidential information about his employment during investigations in order to represent the bank in lawsuits filed by shareholders and regulators following the WorldCom collapse. Trautenberg alleges that information was then used against him during his severance package negotiations and that he should have been entitled to a package worth $25m (£12.58m).

Citigroup paid $2.7bn (£1.36bn) to settle a WorldCom bankruptcy class action lawsuit in 2004.

In a statement, Paul Weiss said it had “discharged all of its ethical obligations to David Trautenberg and that his claim is entirely without merit”.

Paul Weiss partner Leslie Fagen is representing his firm in the suit. Trautenberg is represented by Alabama trial firm Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker.