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IBM sues former top Thai executive for return of $470,000 bonus for taking a job at a rival

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

According to the suit, Chantaruk, who joined IBM in 2018, resigned last year and a month later joined Accenture as managing director for Thailand in April 2022. IBM claims it paid him bonuses totalling more than $470,000 in exchange for protecting confidential company information and not engaging in “anti-competitive conduct within a specified time period”.

Her swift move to Accenture entitles IBM to void her bonus, the latter company said in its lawsuit.

women of the year

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

IBM said it had asked Chantaruk to return the money, but he refused.

Chantaruk did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Accenture also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chantaruk, regularly recognized as a top tech executive in Southeast Asia, spent several years working for Microsoft Corp. before joining IBM. The Bangkok Post named her one of its 24 Women in 2021 alongside former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

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

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