The Thing Is: Lee Amaitis

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Even for a self-proclaimed "tough guy", it must have been hard for Lee Amaitis to hear the comments made about him in the High Court. Not only did the British boss of US broker Cantor Fitzgerald lose the case brought against his firm by former manager Steven Horkulak, paying £1m in compensation, but he had to endure a blistering attack from the judge Mr Justice Newman.

"Mr Amaitis is a dictatorial manager. He issues staccato instructions, raises his voice, shouts, expects instant responses and is quick to criticise," was just one of the comments. "I do not believe that Mr Amaitis accords the benefit of the doubt," was another.

The Cantor boss is used to the idea that people don't answer back to him, not that he can't answer back, but he had to take it. The firm put out a statement at the end of the case, saying: "As the judge made clear, Lee Amaitis is a highly successful leader of Cantor's international operations who is passionate about the success of the business. His vision, leadership and drive have been key to the company's achievements, particularly during its recovery over the last two years." It hardly resembled what had gone on in the courtroom and left people in the City asking, how much will this harm Mr Amaitis?

In the past, he has not shown himself to be weak under pressure. In an interview with this paper, he admitted: "I'm a tough guy and, sure, I'm going to drill a guy if he isn't doing his thing."

When Mr Justice Newman said, "The use of swear words, expletives and foul language is an everyday aspect of the communications uttered by Mr Amaitis," he was not telling anyone anything new. Mr Amaitis made this clear in his own testimonies.

He started his career working at "the track" - that's the horseracing track to you and me, and in the US horseracing is less "the Sport of Kings" than the "Sport of Characters from a latterday Guys and Dolls". In his early Wall Street career he had a brush with the law, being fined $5,000 (£3,117) and receiving a year's probation when caught up in a cocaine-dealing sting.

But Mr Amaitis put this behind him and thrived. When Mr Justice Newman said,"His business philosophy is simple. He is passionate about money. To act so as to unnecessarily reduce profitability excites him to anger and passion," this was not far from Mr Amaitis' own comments in this paper last year, when he said: "Come to my fourth floor. It's real fighting in there, and that was what I wanted to put back into Cantor. I employ an army of mercenaries, and I mean that as a compliment."

Returning to his army of mercenaries tomorrow, Mr Amaitis will try to brush off many of the things that were said. As he explained before: "Win or lose, I stand by everything I do at this company."

Indeed one of Mr Justice Newman's comments could well be adopted by the Cantor boss as a warning to rivals: "He is not a man who views compromise as a sensible option."

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