Former Airwallex exec sues tech unicorn over pay dispute
Founded by a group of friends, Airwallex provides payment services to customers to make it easier to buy and sell goods in different countries without using old-fashioned transfers such as through Western Union. It has a value of $1.8 billion after recently raising an additional $250 million and has set itself a target of producing annual revenues of more than $US100 million.
Airwallex has not reported local accounts since 2017 when the fast-growing business’s revenues in Australia were only $14,803 but did not include global earnings.
Ms Tessari joined the company in September 2017 after a long stint at ANZ Bank. After less than two years at the group she received an offer from Stripe, but alleges she decided to stay on at Airwallex after it offered her the increased package.
Ms Tessari’s employment ceased on August 22, 2019 after the payments allegedly promised by Airwallex did not come through.
Airwallex admits it did offer Ms Tessari a better package to stay on. It also says that while Ms Tessari executed the new employment deal on July 17, the company itself didn’t execute the agreement until August 6, indicating it did not need to pay her the additional remuneration in July like she alleges. Airwallex declined to comment. Lawyers for Ms Tessari were contacted for comment.
Airwallex says it did not breach the agreement with her and it was her decision to leave the company and it had adhered to all of its requirements under the new agreement. It adds that it notified Ms Tessari on August 21 that it would pay the cash benefits at the earliest on August 23 or alternatively in the week after.
It also says the payment delays in August were due to it trying to figure out how much tax to withhold. “At all material times Airwallex was ready, willing and able to pay [Ms[ Tessari the cash benefits”, it says in its formal legal defence to the claim
Airwallex says its founder Jack Zhang did effect the promotion by verbally telling colleagues, senior managers and the founders of her promotion but says there were no other steps required because the reporting structure was the same.