Court order against ex-Barings bosses

TERRY SLAVIN

Singapore

JOHN WILLCOCK

London

Six former Barings directors could face arrest if they fail to comply with a court order granted yesterday to Price Waterhouse, the bank's liquidators, who want to interview the executives in a Singapore court.

The liquidators want to quiz Peter Norris, formerly chief executive of Barings Futures Singapore, as well as James Bax, Simon Jones, Michael Killian, Trevor Johnson and Fu Ya Yin.

The liquidators want to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the collapse of Barings in February following the discovery of over pounds 800m in trading losses run up by rogure derivastives trder Nick Leeson. Barings was subsequently bought by Dutch bank ING, and now trades as ING Barings.

Deborah Ong, a Price Waterhouse partner, said: "We've received a court order to pursue this, and we're in the process of serving the order on the directors." After interviewing the former directors Price Waterhouse will decide if there are any assets that have not been disclosed and whether to bring a legal action for breach of fiduciary duties.

The authorities can issue an arrest warrant if the directors fail to appear in court, but a legal source in Singapore said yesterday that the liquidators did not have the power to extradite Mr Norris. The latter is currently in the UK and has vehemently denied the conclusions of the Singapore investigators.

The Singapore-based source added: "If the directors don't turn up, the rules provide that a warrant of arrest can be issued. That's stated in the winding up rules. How far it would go we don't know."

Mr Bax, the former maanging director of Barings Asia Pacific, and Mr Jones, BFS's former finance director, have been unable to leave Singapore as their passports were seized by the authorities. Tow other former BFS directors named in the court orders are alos overseas; An American, Laughlin Killian, who is working for ING Barings in the US, and Trevor johnson, who is thought to be in the UK.

A court order was also issued against Stephen Pollard, Nick Leeson's UK lawyer, when he was in Singapore for Mr Leeson's trial earlier this year, and a date of 8 January has been set.

Price Waterhouse took steps earlier this month to restrain Mr Leeson and his wife Lisa from profiting from potential book and film earnings. Mr Pollard will face similar questioning in relation to the Leeson's conduct.. It is not known whether Mr Pollard will return to Singapore for the court hearing.

Singapore's Commercial Affairs Division, which deals with serious fraud and prosecuted Mr Leeson, is ready to receive evidence of criminal actions if any are uncovered by Price Waterhouse.

Mr Leeson's Singapore lawyer, John Koh, visited him in the Tanah Merah prison yesterday to find out if he intends to appeal his six and a half year sentence. The deadline to file an appeal is 1pm local time in Singapore today.

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