Wall Street financier ordered to pay €16m to sexually-harassed intern who he coerced into sex and then fired
Hanna Bouveng, a 25-year-old Swede, said that her venture capital boss Benjamin Wey coerced her into sex and then launched smear campaign when she turned down his advances
Published 01/07/2015 | 08:29
A Wall Street high-flyer has been ordered to pay $18 million (€16m) in damages to a Swedish former employee for sexually harassing her and then pursuing a vicious online smear campaign after she spurned him.
A New York federal jury awarded $2 million (€1.8m) in compensatory damages and then added $16 million (€14.38m) in punitive damages for Hanna Bouveng, 25, against her married ex-boss Benjamin Wey, 43, and his business.
Ms Bouveng, a former model, testified that Mr Wey coerced her into having sex with him in a luxury Financial District apartment that he rented for her and forced her to share a hotel room on business trips.
But after four encounters, she turned down his advances, to the fury of the head of New York Global Group, a venture capital and private equity firm.
He fired her and then launched his vindictive online defamation operation after he found her boyfriend naked in bed, the court was told.
The jury heard that Mr Wey waged his campaign via emails to her family and friends and rants on his personal website, which carries the slogan “Never be Boring”.
The financier described her as a “party girl” and prostitute after describing how he found a man on her bed who was “naked, dirty, totally drunk and perhaps on illegal drugs”. He even turned up at a café in Stockholm where she moved to escape the harassment.
As she left the Manhattan courthouse after the ruling, Ms Bouveng smiled broadly. “I am so happy and so relieved,” she said. “I went through a lot and endured over one year of abuse from him,” Ms Bouveng said.
Mr Wey had attended the civil case proceedings but was not in court for the verdict. But his lawyer Glenn Colton said he would appeal and he emphasised that the jury had dismissed claims of sexual assault against his client.
“Lost in the headlines is the fact that the jury rejected completely Ms. Bouveng’s claims of forced sexual relations. The jury has spoken — the alleged forced events never happened. Of course, we are disappointed in other aspects of the verdict and plan to pursue post-trial remedies vigorously,” Mr Colton said.
The case is the latest in a series of Wall Street sexual harassment cases.
The reputation of the New York finance industry for macho-dominated excess was also highlighted on screen in the Wolf on Wall Street film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Ms Bouveng had originally brought a $850 million lawsuit. Mr Wey denied having sex with Ms Bouveng, and said he fired her because her night-time partying was harming her work.
Mr Wey is a Chinese-born US citizen who launched his financial career in the 1990s when he came to America to study.