IBM Sues Former Top Thai Executive for Return of $470,000 Bonus

(Bloomberg) — IBM Corp. is suing the former top executive in its Thailand subsidiary, claiming she should pay back nearly half a million dollars in bonus awards for taking a job at a rival company.

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In a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in New York, the tech giant alleged its former Thailand general manager, Patama Chantaruck, breached her contract when she accepted a senior role with Accenture. IBM said Accenture was its largest competitor in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of consulting revenue.

Chantaruck, who joined IBM in 2018, resigned last year and joined Accenture as Thailand managing director a month later, in April 2022, according to the suit. IBM claims it awarded her bonuses totaling more than $470,000 in exchange for Chantaruck safeguarding confidential company information and not engaging in “competitive conduct within specific time periods.”

Her swift move to Accenture gives IBM the right to rescind her bonus, the latter company said in its suit.

Women of the Year

“IBM and Accenture entities compete particularly in the information, digitalization, and consulting spaces, both globally and within the Asia-Pacific region,” IBM’s lawyers wrote in the complaint.

IBM said it had asked Chantaruck to return the money, but she refused.

Chantaruck didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Accenture also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Regularly recognized as a top tech executive in Southeast Asia, Chantaruck spent many years working for Microsoft Corp. before she joined IBM. The Bangkok Post named her one of its 24 Women of the Year in 2021, along with former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen.

The case is IBM v. Chantaruck, 23-cv-1191, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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