LOS ANGELES, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Pacific Investment Management Company did not try to directly recruit star bond fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach while he was still employed at Trust Company of the West.
Rather, Gundlach said in court, he was indirectly approached by PIMCO.
“They sent some ambassadors to me. Wall Street guys,” Gundlach told jurors on Wednesday.
TCW is pitted against Gundlach in a high-stakes trial with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line.
Two witnesses testified earlier in the trial that Gundlach discussed succeeding PIMCO’s Bill Gross.
Gundlach did not identify the “ambassadors” and TCW attorney Steve Madison did not ask him to name them.
TCW fired Gundlach in December 2009 and sued him a month later, accusing him of stealing trade secrets, plotting to form a new company using TCW proprietary information and gutting the firm of its entire mortgage-backed securities team.
Gundlach fired back with a counter-lawsuit, alleging his former employer owed him hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and secretly plotted to fire him while he was still chief investment officer.
In the weeks following his termination, Gundlach went on to form DoubleLine Capital, along with three of his co-defendants in the case. Roughly 45 TCW employees, largely from the mortgage-backed securities group, followed.
In court on Wednesday, jurors were shown an August 2009 email in which Gundlach appeared to disavow a contractual relationship with TCW.
“Here is the truthful answer: Jeffrey Gundlach is not under contract with TCW,” Gundlach said in the email.
Gundlach told jurors, however, that the email was directed to an “undesirable client” interested in one of his funds.
The client had raised concerns about his long term employment status at TCW, so the e-mail was designed to make the client decide against investing, Gundlach said.
Gundlach’s legal team has been calling witnesses in their counter-suit for a week. Closing arguments are expected early next week.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carl West is pushing for the case to finish quickly, calling for extra testimony on Friday and limiting the amount of cross examination the TCW attorneys are allowed.
The case in Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles is Trust Co of the West v. Jeffrey Gundlach et al, BC429385. (Editing by Andre Grenon)