IBM sues former executive for accepting role at rival company

Tech giant alleges breach of contract and seeks return of bonus awards.


IBM Corp. has filed a lawsuit against Patama Chantaruck, its former Thailand general manager, claiming that she breached her contract by taking a senior role with rival company, Accenture. The suit was filed on Monday in federal court in New York, with IBM seeking the return of nearly $470,000 in bonus awards paid to Chantaruck in exchange for safeguarding confidential company information and refraining from engaging in competitive conduct within specific time periods.

According to the suit, Chantaruck resigned from IBM in 2021 and joined Accenture as Thailand managing director a month later, in April 2022. IBM alleges that Chantaruck’s move to its largest competitor in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of consulting revenue gave the company the right to rescind her bonus.

IBM’s lawyers wrote in the complaint that “IBM and Accenture entities compete particularly in the information, digitalisation, and consulting spaces, both globally and within the Asia-Pacific region.” IBM has asked Chantaruck to return the money, but she has refused to do so.

Chantaruck, who spent many years working for Microsoft Corp. before joining IBM, has been recognized as a top tech executive in Southeast Asia. The Bangkok Post named her one of its 24 Women of the Year in 2021, along with former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen.

IBM’s lawsuit against Chantaruck has been filed under the case name IBM v. Chantaruck, 23-cv-1191, in the US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). Neither Chantaruck nor Accenture has responded to requests for comment.

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