Prudential sues former manager for poaching agents

The first litigation fallout from a dispute over alleged mass-poaching of agents has surfaced in the High Court, with life insurer Prudential Assurance suing its former senior financial services manager Peter Tan Shou Yi.

The Singapore company is accusing Mr Tan, 53, of getting more than 230 agents and agency leaders to move to rival insurer Aviva Financial Advisers.

Mr Tan, while at Prudential, had been in charge of a group known as Peter Tan Organisation (PTO), which had about 500 agents and agency leaders.

Prudential claims Mr Tan made various representations and remarks to them on various occasions in May and June 2016 that allegedly caused them to leave.

It added that their departure took place at a time when he was still contracted as an agent and agency leader of Prudential.

Mr Tan, represented by lawyers from TSMP Corporation led by Senior Counsel Thio Shen Yi, is contesting the claims.

Meanwhile, a preliminary issue on audio recordings of the alleged soliciting of the agents has come before the court.

Prudential's lawyers from Rajah & Tann, led by Mr K Muralidharan Pillai, want the court to decide whether Mr Tan was the person speaking in the recordings.

The recordings were allegedly his discussions with Prudential agents and agency leaders at certain meetings, during which he is said to have asked them to leave the company.

Mr Tan's lawyers is challenging the authenticity of the recordings, among other things.

Their arguments were heard by High Court assistant registrar Justin Yeo, who gave his judgment grounds last week.

Mr Yeo said he accepted the recordings' authenticity will be fiercely fought at the trial but the fact that it is in dispute is "not of itself a bar" for the question sought in the interrogatories to be answered by Mr Tan.

" What he has to do is to respond factually, to the best of his knowledge... For instance, if he honestly believes the voice to be his but that his speech had been manipulated to misrepresent what had actually transpired, it is open to him to qualify his response accordingly."

Interrogatories are questions raised that can signficantly reduce costs and help in the fair disposal of the matter.

Mr Yeo, however, disallowed a set of secondary queries Prudential wanted Mr Tan to answer.

SC Thio said yesterday his team is studying the judgment grounds.