PJT Partners shareholder Eugene Stricker is suing the firm and six of its senior staff claiming they breached their fiduciary duty in failing to prevent Andrew Caspersen, a former partner at a PJT subsidiary, from committing an alleged $95 million fraud.
Stricker alleges that “inadequate compliance and fraud-prevention controls” allowed Caspersen to allegedly form a criminal scheme, according to an 11 May filing in the Southern District of New York court.
The individuals named in the lawsuit also caused PJT to make false or misleading public statements about its policies, specifically in the quarterly earnings reports filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the filing claims.
The PJT staff being sued by Stricker are: founder and chief executive Paul Taubman; partner and chief financial officer Helen Meates; and board members Kenneth Whitney, Dennis Hersch, Thomas Ryan and Emily Rafferty.
Caspersen, whose employment at PJT subsidiary Park Hill was terminated in March when the alleged scheme was revealed, is also named in the lawsuit. He is currently facing securities fraud charges.Stricker claims that the “misconduct” caused and continues to cause PJT and its shareholders “great harm” due to the damaged reputation and goodwill of the firm and its exposure to potential criminal and civil liability.
He adds that PJT’s market capitalisation was “substantially damaged” and the firm’s share price dropped more than 10 percent to $23.66 at market close on 28 March, when Caspersen’s arrest on charges of securities and wire frauds was announced.The defendants have until 1 June to respond to the complaint.
PJT and Caspersen are also involved in a separate class-action lawsuit brought by Gregory Barrett on 15 April. Barrett is seeking remedies for the purchase of PJT stocks between 12 November, when PJT filed a quarterly report, and 28 March.
PJT declined to comment. A request for comment sent to Stricker’s lawyer was unanswered.