(Adds comment from plaintiff's lawyer)
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, April 26 A U.S. judge has ordered UBS
Group AG to face a lawsuit by a former bond
strategist who said he was fired in retaliation for refusing to
publish misleading research reports and complaining about being
pressured to do so.
In a decision made public on Tuesday night, U.S. District
Judge Katherine Polk Failla in Manhattan said Trevor Murray
could try to prove that whistleblowing was a factor in his
February 2012 firing, and that UBS' actions violated the
Sarbanes-Oxley corporate governance law.
Murray claimed UBS officials pressured him to issue skewed,
bullish research on commercial mortgage-backed securities in
order to support the Swiss bank's trading and underwriting
"Plaintiff believed that efforts to pressure him into
publishing biased and inaccurate, but ostensibly independent,
reports" were illegal, and a reasonable jury could find that his
resistance was a factor in his firing, Failla wrote.
The judge's decision, which was released in redacted form,
is dated March 31. Murray has sought back pay and other damages.
UBS spokeswoman Erica Chase said in an email: "While we are
disappointed in this decision, we continue to believe that the
claims have no merit and we will continue to vigorously defend
Robert Stulberg, a lawyer for Murray, said in an interview:
"We are gratified that Mr. Murray can now seek a full and fair
remedy from a jury for his unlawful discharge. We are confident
that he will prevail at trial."
In seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, UBS had said Murray's
termination was part of a cost-cutting drive that eliminated
thousands of jobs, after the bank had reported
lower-than-expected revenue and a $2 billion loss from
unauthorized trading by "rogue trader" Kweku Adoboli.
Murray was fired fewer than nine months into his second
stint at UBS.
He had worked for the bank from May 2007 to September 2009,
when he was let go because of cost-cutting prompted by the
global financial crisis, according to court papers.
The case is Murray v UBS Securities LLC et al, U.S. District
Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-00927.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Bernard Orr)