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Leeson calls for bank prosecutions

Leeson calls for bank prosecutions

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Leeson calls for bank prosecutions

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Rogue trader Nick Leeson has claimed authorities in Britain and Ireland do not have the appetite to prosecute bankers.

Twenty years since his spectacularly fraudulent punts broke Barings, one of the City's oldest merchant banks, the former derivatives broker hit out at apathy he sees among criminal justice chiefs and politicians.

"The problem is there needs to be an appetite to prosecute these people," he said.

"There seems to be a severe lack of appetite when you look at the UK and Ireland and you have to ask yourself why?

"Financial markets are a huge part of a country's GDP, they provide a lot of donations to the ruling parties in both those countries and there just seems to be a lack of appetite to prosecute and punish accordingly."

Leeson's staggering fraud from the Singapore trading floor still resonates two decades later, albeit the £862 million losses he racked up are dwarfed by the multibillion bailouts of UK and Irish banks and fines of 166 billion US dollars dished out to banks for corrupt or illegal practices in recent years.

But the plasterer's son from Watford remains a symbol of rogue banking.

Leeson appeared incredulous at the lack of white collar convictions for corrupt banking and more so at the apparently pervasive attitudes in financial circles.

"There's been some startling things that have happened over the last number of years and when you sort of add them together it kind of looks as if they (the banks) exist above the law," he said.

"166 billion US dollars in fines in six years is astronomical sort of money. If you can weather that sort of fine, number one, and it doesn't impact your bottom line and there's no reputational damage - what stops you carrying on and working forward to the next disaster that's around the corner because there's no real consequence to your actions."

Leeson, who this week turns 48, has been jailed, divorced, beaten colon cancer, run Galway United Football Club and carved a lucrative career on the after dinner circuit and as a debt management consultant in the years since Barings collapsed on 26 February 1995.

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