The fired chief executive of a New York-based trade group representing asset-backed lenders has sued the group, claiming he was wrongfully dismissed after raising concerns about conflicts of interest and a lack of auditor independence.

The lawsuit against the Commercial Finance Association also names Andrea Petro, the president of the organization, and her employer, Wells Fargo & Co., as defendants, according to the complaint that was filed in in federal court last month. The group represents hundreds of banks and other companies involved in structured-finance lending, in which loans are secured by inventories or accounts receivables.

The former chief executive, Robert Trojan, 54, said in his lawsuit that he repeatedly raised concerns about the independence of the CFA's auditing firm, saying it had undisclosed business relationships with members and directors of the group. The nature of the alleged conflicts wasn't specified.

After no action was taken about the concerns, Trojan submitted a written complaint about the issue to Petro and members of the group's finance and audit committees, under an internal whistleblower policy. One day after the notice was filed, Trojan alleges he was fired "effective immediately" by Petro.

Though he wasn't dimissed for cause, and the two sides had a verbal agreement to not publicly discuss the dismissal, Petro then sent an email to hundreds of members of the group saying the decision was related to "the financial underperformance of the CFA," according to the suit.

Representatives of the CFA and Wells Fargo didn't respond to messages seeking comment. Petro didn't respond to voice-mail and email messages seeking comment. A lawyer for Trojan declined comment. Trojan seeks $3 million in damages.

The case is Trojan v. Commercial Finance Association, 17-cv-1190, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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