By Maiya Keidan
TORONTO (Reuters) - A former executive at Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) has sued the Canadian pension fund alleging he is owed C$65 million ($52.7 million) in compensation for deal-making activities and damages for wrongful dismissal after 11 years in the company.
Patterson, who was a managing director at OMERS Private Equity (OPE), said he was hired in February 2010 under a pay plan that would have yielded him tens of millions over eight years for striking private equity deals, according to documents filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday.
He says those pay terms were repeatedly redrafted, resulting in lower and lower amounts of money going into his own pocket as he continued at the firm.
"While OMERS is not at liberty to discuss publicly the details surrounding the departure of any employee, this wrongful dismissal claim is entirely without merit," OMERS spokesman Neil Hrab said in an emailed statement.
OMERS, Canada's seventh-largest pension manager overseeing C$105 billion in net assets, said it would contest this litigation in the same way "it would any action that could potentially adversely impact" its more than 500,000 pension plan members.
Patterson said OMERS made a promise to him and other investment professionals in December 2019 that there would not be further reductions in their pay arrangement, before almost immediately putting forth a new income reduction plan, according to the court documents, which were reviewed by Reuters.
Patterson alleged that OMERS took advantage of lower valuations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by introducing a new "Bridge Plan".
He alleges he was dismissed on Jan. 14, 2021, after he and nine other senior OPE executives refused to sign the redrafted plan.
Patterson joined OMERS after seven years at private equity firm CAI Capital. The court documents say OMERS paid him C$5 million in February 2020.
The claim is the largest by an individual in Canadian employment law history, Howard Levitt, a senior partner at LSCS Law representing Patterson, told Reuters via email on Monday. Reuters could not independently verify this claim.
($1 = 1.2344 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Maiya Keidan; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)