Ex-agency leader sues former CEO, two agents

Mr Peter Tan Shou Yi (left) alleges that Prudential Singapore's former CEO Philip Seah (right), wrongfully induced two agency leaders to give up "protected information" relating to a potential move to Aviva in exchange for benefits.
Mr Peter Tan Shou Yi (left) alleges that Prudential Singapore's former CEO Philip Seah (right), wrongfully induced two agency leaders to give up "protected information" relating to a potential move to Aviva in exchange for benefits.

As Prudential's former top agency manager Peter Tan Shou Yi is being sued for up to $2.5 billion over a 2016 mass defection to a rival insurer, he is hitting back at two agency leaders and Prudential's former chief executive in a separate lawsuit.

Mr Tan alleges that Mr Philip Seah, chief executive of Prudential Assurance Company Singapore from December 2015 to November 2016, wrongfully induced the two agency leaders to give up "protected information" relating to a potential move to Aviva in exchange for benefits.

Agency leaders Wendy Ho Xiang Yu, 34, and Royston Ng Youliang, 36, were both members of Mr Tan's agency, Peter Tan Organisation (PTO).

According to court documents seen by The Straits Times, the pair became bound under an agreement in 2013 to keep confidential information such as PTO's business strategy and methods of operation.

In 2015, along with about 40 other agency leaders, they entered into another agreement barring them from leaking business information and using private information, including via voice and video, to complain against any manager in PTO.

The penalty for a violation of this included a payment of $1 million, said court documents.

Mr Tan contends that both Ms Ho and Mr Ng breached confidentiality obligations to him.

He claimed that between February 2016 and July 2016, Ms Ho and Mr Ng engaged in secret discussions with Prudential, in which they agreed to remain with the company and hand over certain protected information and recordings to it in return for perks such as promotions.

The recordings included one of a meeting in Guangzhou in May 2016, relating to the move to Aviva.

The Business Times reported that the agency leaders said they were pressured into entering the confidentiality agreements, and were not afforded opportunities to seek legal advice before signing.

The suit, filed by Mr Tan in October last year, comes two years after Prudential sued him over a mass defection of 244 agents and agency leaders.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Ex-agency leader sues former CEO, two agents'. Print Edition | Subscribe