A TCW Group vice president said she smuggled an external hard drive in her bra to a managing director at the firm the day he was put on leave together with investment chief Jeffrey Gundlach and escorted from the building.
Dolores Talamantes testified Wednesday at a trial that pits TCW against Mr. Gundlach, former managing director Cris Santa Ana and two other former employees who joined Mr. Gundlach's DoubleLine Capital, the asset management firm he formed within weeks after TCW fired him in December 2009.
TCW alleges that Mr. Santa Ana downloaded confidential and proprietary information on the hard drive in 2009 as he and Mr. Gundlach plotted to start DoubleLine. The former TCW employees deny having used the information at DoubleLine and claim TCW fired them to avoid having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in performance fees to Mr. Gundlach's group.
Ms. Talamantes said she had been with other TCW employees from Mr. Gundlach's group at Magnolia, a bar/restaurant downstairs from the firm's office in downtown Los Angeles, on Dec. 4, 2009, the day Mr. Gundlach was relieved of his duties. She said she had gone up to the office around 6 p.m. and ran into another employee, Melissa Conn, who was holding the hard drive.
“I said ‘give it to me' and stuffed it in my bra,” Ms. Talamantes told jurors in California Superior Court in Los Angeles.
Ms. Conn testified earlier Wednesday that she had taken the hard drive from Mr. Santa Ana's desk around that time and put it in her purse and that she was uncertain whether she should take it from the trading floor because it might contain TCW data as well as Mr. Santa Ana's private files. Ms. Conn said she also had been at Magnolia earlier that evening before going back up to the office.
After she found Mr. Santa Ana, who had been escorted from the office in the afternoon, at Magnolia, Ms. Talamantes told him she had something for him and they went to his car where she gave him the hard drive, she testified.
“He said ‘I love you' and gave me a hug,” Ms. Talamantes said.
TCW said Messrs. Gundlach and Santa Ana and the others were fired because they started stealing trade secrets and confidential information, including client portfolio information, in September 2009. TCW alleges Mr. Gundlach wouldn't have been able to set up DoubleLine as quickly as he did without its proprietary information.
Mr. Gundlach, whose group managed more than half of TCW's $110 billion under management, says TCW owes him about $500 million in management and performance fees for the distressed-asset funds he started in 2008 and that went “through the roof.”