Leeson's release set to stir painful memories in the City

The `rogue trader' is to be released on Saturday. But what happened to the men dragged down with him?
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The Independent Online
WHEN NICK Leeson, the rogue futures trader, walks out the gates of Tanah Merah prison on Saturday there will be no celebration at the Singapore International Monetary Exchange (Simex), the futures exchange which thought it was going to be dragged under by the Barings scandal.

Neither will there be champagne corks popping at the homes of the score of Barings ex-executives who resigned from the merchant bank following the debacle. And the Bank of England will no doubt hold its own counsel, having lost its banking regulatory functions to the fledgling Financial Services Authority (FSA) at least in part because of its failure to prevent Barings' collapse.

In Singapore Leeson has been expunged from the exchange's official memory. A Simex publication listing the exchange's milestones makes no mention of the events in 1995 which caused Barings to loose pounds 850m as a result of the rogue trader's failed gamble on Japanese stock exchange futures contracts.

As for Leeson's former colleagues in Singapore, most have every reason to rue the day he first walked into the office. None more so than Simon Jones, the former chief operating officer of Barings South Asia, who was Leeson's immediate boss, and James Bax, the former regional manager for Barings in South- East Asia.

Following Leeson's arrest both men were investigated by the Singapore government for a year and a half, during which time they were under constant surveillance, forbidden to travel and unable to work, before being cleared three years ago. Mr Jones is working as a lawyer in Singapore. Mr Bax is in New York where he is again specialising in the equities business.

Leeson tried to implicate his former bosses in his crimes as part of the unofficial plea bargaining when he was facing a 14-year jail sentence. Ultimately he was given less than half that time and served only three- and -a-half years.

Certainly the blue-blooded higher echelons of Barings in London were humiliated. Ten were banned from being directors of public companies for varying terms by the Department of Trade and Industry. More than 20 were forced to resign once the Dutch bank ING had bought the remains of Barings for pounds 1.

Peter Baring, chairman of the bank and a scion of a dynasty which had run the bank since 1762, has retired to his Wiltshire estate. Andrew Tuckey, in contrast, the chairman of the investment bank, is still working in the City, advising on corporate finance transactions at DLJ Pheonix. Despite being banned by the DTI from being a director, Mr Tuckey was allowed to continue advising Lloyds on its pounds 6bn acquisition of TSB. One man who fought back against the authorities was Ron Baker, head of financial products and Leeson's immediate boss. He sued the bank for his pounds 880,000 bonus but lost his claim last autumn. He successfully defended himself against the SFA's proceedings, but has not returned to business.

Leeson's last boss in London was Peter Norris, the former chief executive of investment banking at Barings and an old Asia hand. He went from being one of the highest paid people in the City to working as a consultant at Viz, the adult comic.

Like a number of his colleagues, Mr Norris was disciplined by the Securities and Futures Authority, now part of the FSA. His SFA registration for working in the industry was removed, and he was not allowed to reapply for it for three years.

Ian Hopkins, head of group treasury and risk, suffered similar penalties, despite having complained that his early warnings over Leeson's activities had been ignored. Mr Hopkins is running his own consultancy.

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