UBS former CMBS strategist felt like damaged goods, jury told
A former UBS Group AG senior strategist for commercial mortgage-backed securities developed suicidal thoughts and felt like a "pariah" in the industry after his 2012 firing and later lawsuit against the Swiss bank, a psychiatrist told a jury.
Trevor Murray claims in the suit that the CMBS trading desk at UBS illegally demanded preclearance of his research reports to make sure they were in line with the bank's own financial interests, and that he was fired for blowing the whistle. A psychiatrist who diagnosed Murray and is serving as his expert witness at a trial said the firing made Murray depressed and anxious, hobbling his effort to find another high-paying job.
"He felt no one wanted to touch him, that he was damaged goods," Robert Goldstein testified on Dec. 12 in federal court in New York. "The loss of a high-value job is a well-established environmental trigger for depressive disorders."
Murray claims the bank's traders complained that his bearish reports could undermine their trading. Murray testified earlier that he gave in to their demands and allowed drafts of his reports to be reviewed. He also conceded under questioning by UBS lawyers that he had lied to clients by verifying that his reports were independent and hadn’t been influenced by business interests.
Murray's attorney, Robert Herbst, is seeking to show jurors that the former strategist, who was hired by UBS in 2011 and worked at the bank for about a year, deserves more than $3 million in back pay. The Zurich-based bank says the conduct Murray alleges never took place and that he’s not a whistle-blower.
Goldstein testified that Murray came to believe his family might be "better off if he was gone." Murray also had a loss of appetite, became sleep-deprived and suffered in other ways, the doctor said.
Daniel Park Chung, a UBS attorney, sought to undermine Goldstein's testimony by presenting the jury with articles he'd written about how to sway juries. Goldstein also agreed that the leading textbook on how to conduct psychiatric interviews suggests using video or audio recordings for the best results, and that Goldstein hadn't done so in his interviews of Murray.
Mike Schumacher, Murray's former manager, testified that he had a "gut sense" that Murray had a disagreement with the firm's traders in the months before the strategist was fired. But he denied he'd ever been told by Murray that a CMBS trader wanted to preclear drafts of his reports.
"I don't remember hearing anything like that," Schumacher testified under questioning by Murray’s lawyer.
Schumacher also rejected the lawyer’s suggestion that he’d ever told Murray that his reports needed to help UBS sell CMBS products.
"That’s ridiculous, no," Schumacher said.
The case is Murray v. UBS Securities, 14-cv-00927, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).