In January 2017, Lawrence Minicone and Zachary Squire launched Tekmerion Capital Management, a systematic macro investment firm. Their former employer, Bridgewater Associates, was not happy about it and sought to settle its complaints via a private arbitration proceeding. But what was meant to be a private matter has now been thrust into public view, owing to a new court filing.
Months after Tekmerion launched, Bridgewater sought to take the firm to arbitration for the “misappropriation of trade secrets, breaches of contract, and unfair competition,” court documents show. Arbitration — a process for settling disputes outside of court, with a neutral party mediating — is meant to prevent such disputes from becoming public. But that's exactly what happened last week because of a dispute over legal fees. Here’s how it happened.
Both Minicone and Squire worked as investment associates at Bridgewater — Minicone for nearly five years beginning in 2008, Squire for three years starting in 2010, their respective LinkedIn profiles show.
A contractual non-compete period included in their employment contracts with Bridgewater required them to spend nearly four years in “Bridgewater-approved positions” after leaving the firm, according to a July 1 court filing by Minicone and Squire’s legal team.
Those agreements also stipulated that disputes between the firm and former employees take place via arbitration, according to that filing. (Because of their private nature, arbitration negotiations have come under fire in recent years, particularly those that pertain to sexual assault and harassment cases in the workplace.)
After their non-compete period ended, Minicone and Squire helped launch Tekmerion, which, according to its website, makes directional bets in the futures markets on equity indexes, rates, foreign exchanges, and commodities.
In November 2017, nearly a year after the two helped launch the firm, Bridgewater filed a “demand for arbitration” against them, according to the filing. Squire and Minicone denied Bridgewater's claims in the demand and filed counterclaims of their own.
The arbitration took roughly two years and involved a discovery process, nineteen pre-hearing motions, and eight days of hearings, the filing stated.
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But the dispute hasn’t ended: Minicone and Squire’s lawyer filed a separate document on July 1 with the court seeking to “confirm arbitration award in favor” of the two, with an award for $1.99 million to cover legal fees.
According to the American Arbitration Association, which handled this arbitration, a party that wins arbitration may go to court to confirm the arbitration award if “the other party does not do what the award says.”
However, a court filing on July 3 by Bridgewater’s lawyer seeks to vacate those fees. According to a person familiar with the matter, awards for attorney’s fees are prohibited in their employment agreements.
A spokesperson for Bridgewater declined to comment. A lawyer representing Minicone and Squire also declined to comment.