Leeson receives Barings writ

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The administrators to Barings Bank yesterday issued a writ against Nick Leeson, the former trader who caused the collapse of the merchant bank.

The High Court writ claims "damages for fraudulent and/or negligent representation in the advancement of funds not repaid and the use of funds and dealing on exchanges".

The administrators, Ernst and Young, have not served the writ on Mr Leeson but have issued it as a preparatory step in case they decide to do so later.

Stephen Pollard, Mr Leeson's solicitor, said the administrators had told him that they were not planning to pursue the case "unless a large amount of Barings money turned up in Swiss banks or somewhere".

"If, of course, somebody offered him pounds 10m or so to tell his story, that would be worth going for too," Mr Pollard said. But he added that his client would be entitled to keep a part of any deal to pay his legal fees.

Mr Leeson, who has taken responsibility for secretly using the account which caused the collapse, told Sir David Frost in a recent television interview that he had not stolen any money from the bank, adding that he was having difficulty paying his legal fees.

However, there has been speculation that Mr Leeson, who is co-operating on a book about the affair, might make considerable sums in the future from selling his story to media outlets and film companies.

The serving of such a writ is a standard procedure by administrators to collapsed companies who wish to ensure that any future money made goes to creditors. Mr Pollard said he thought it possible that the administrators would serve writs on others involved in the bank's collapse.

Mr Leeson is being held in Hoechst Prison in Frankfurt, pending an extradition request by Singapore, which wants to try him on 12 charges of fraud, forgery and the illegal transfer of funds. Mr Leeson's legal team is trying to resist the extradition, although an effort to persuade the British to put in a competing request has failed.