A Swedish woman was awarded $18 million by a federal jury Monday after she sued her Wall Street boss for sexual harassment.
Hanna Bouveng, 25, claimed that New York Global Group owner Benjamin Wey, 43, used his influence to force her into four sexual encounters before firing her after he found her in bed with her boyfriend.
Bouveng says she was hired by Wey in October 2013. Shortly after, he began pursuing her sexually. Initially she rebuffed him, but they ended up having sex on a cold January night as they were negotiating a deal to use Bouveng’s family connections to purchase a Swedish company.
“He puts her on the bed and he has sex with her and it’s over in two minutes,” attorney David Ratner told jurors, according to Newsday. “She was debased. She was degraded. She was defiled. He was delighted… He thought he owned her.”
Eventually, she put an end to the relationship, refusing to have sex with him anymore. He fired her, the suit alleged.
But that wasn’t the end of it. A few months after firing her, Wey walked into a café in Stockholm where Bouveng was working. “The message was: ‘Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I am going to find you and I am going to get you,” Ratner said. “She used to be sociable. … Now she is afraid to tell people her last name.”
Wey denies any sexual relationship with Bouveng, saying she took advantage of his generosity as a mentor and that he fired her after her party-girl lifestyle left her unable to keep up with her work.
His lawyer did admit that Wey penned defamatory articles about Bouveng on his blog. “Did he write bad articles after that? Were they nasty? Yeah, they were nasty,” Wey’s lawyer Glenn Colton said, calling the behavior a mistake.
A costly mistake at that: Bouveng was given $2 million in compensatory damages plus $16 million in punitive damages on sexual harassment, retaliation and defamation claims.