Barings staff face fresh inquiry

Singapore fall-out: Fraud investigators respond swiftly to allegations of a high-level bank cover-up

Singapore fraud investigators moved swiftly yesterday to interview James Bax and Simon Jones as part of a wide-ranging response into the collapse of Barings. Their action could involve criminal prosecution of local Barings executives and applications for extradition of some of the London staff. No charges have been laid against anyone but Nick Leeson, the trader accused of bringing down the bank.

The interviews came barely 24 hours after a damning 183-page report from the Singapore authorities, which said there had been a deliberate cover- up by some Barings executives of an accounting warning sign that could have saved the bank. Mr Bax, the boss of Nick Leeson and Peter Norris, Barings' former chief executive, were also accused of lying to investigators.

Sources close to the investigation said yesterday that a farewell party planned for Mr Bax on Tuesday was abruptly cancelled and that his weekend departure from Singpore was thrown into doubt.

Travel restrictions had been placed on both Mr Bax and on Mr Jones, chief operating officer for Barings South Asia, who are both still based in Singapore. Mr Bax was due to travel only after posting an pounds 11,360 bond.

Lawrence Ang, the director of the Commercial Affairs Department - responsible for fraud investigation - yesterday refused to name those who may face criminal proceedings. The department said its investigations had produced additional charges against Nick Leeson, but these would not be added to the 11 on which he will stand trial in Singapore should his extradition from Germany be successful.

The existing charges fall into three categories of forgery, "certain price adjustments" and deceiving the Singapore International Monetary Exchange. These offences carry a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

Asked whether the Singaporean authorities would accept an offer of co- operation from Mr Leeson, Mr Ang replied: "Yes, why not?" He was hesitant in saying whether such an offer had already been made but ultimately said that it had not.

Stephen Pollard, Mr Leeson's lawyer, said his client was likely to get a fairer trial in Singapore in the light of the new report. "The inspectors have focused on the extent to which the bank could not have collapsed without the acts and omissions of the London management. To that extent they must share the responsibility with Nick Leeson for the collapse of the bank."

Mr Ang would say nothing specific about his department's interest in Mr Norris - but he made clear that if people outside Singapore were responsible, there would be no hesitation in investigating them. "If offences were committed here, then it matters not where these people are. Obviously we can pursue [them] in accordance with extradition law."

Asked whether Mr Norris could be prosecuted if it were proved that he was involved in a conspiracy to conceal unlawful trading, as suggested by the inspectors, Mr Ang replied: "If it can be established that acts of conspiracy took place in Singapore, [the department] may be able to use that as a basis to launch investigations."

Mr Norris's lawyer in London said yesterday his client would fight any attempt to have him extradited to Singapore. "I imagine that ... he would not be enthusiastic about returning voluntarily to face a court in Singapore," said Anthony Isaacs of Stephenson Harwood.

The Singapore authorities' report suggests that Barings Futures (Singapore), the company at the centre of the collapse, was trading unlawfully. If this were proved all the company's directors would be liable for criminal prosecution under the Singaporean Companies Act.

Mr Norris, Mr Bax, Mr Jones and the Singaporean directors are therefore at risk. Nothing has been said so far about possible action against Singaporean nationals.

Mr Ang added that attempts to interview "seven to ten people" in the UK came to nothing because of the "virtually impossible"demands made by potential witnesses.

He said these were: that interviews had to be informal, that lawyers had to be present, that detailed questions had to be provided in advance, that questions could not go beyond the scope of those notified, that any document referred to was to be supplied in advance, that the Commercial Affairs Department would not seek to summon or subpoena the witnesses and that the interviews were to be held under the privilege provisions of English law, in other words that their contents could not be used in any subsequent legal action.

Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
voicesBy the man who has
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?