SFO wants to talk to Leeson

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Nick Leeson, the trader blamed for the collapse of Barings bank, is to be interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office after all, following what it described as an "unconditional offer" from his lawyers.

The SFO's decision to interview Mr Leeson follows a campaign by Stephen Pollard, his lawyer, to win his client's extradition from Germany to the UK. However, the SFO maintained yesterday that the former Barings trader should be tried in Singapore, where the offences causing the bank's collapse allegedly took place.

The SFO said: "Singapore is the most appropriate jurisdiction, notwithstanding Mr Leeson's stated wish to be tried in the UK. We have made it known we do not wish to put in an extradition request in competition with Singapore. This continues to be our position."

An SFO spokeswoman declined to state whether the SFO might be prepared to supply the Singapore authorities with any additional information received from Mr Leeson in order to aid their extradition attempts and subsequent trial.

"At present, we do not have any evidence that what he has to say might be of interest to us in our investigation or those of other authorities," she said.

Despite the SFO's statement, Mr Pollard said yesterday he was delighted with the turnaround, first predicted in the Independent last week.

"Despite the fact that they appear to have prejudged the matter, I believe that this interview will advance the case for Mr Leeson's extradition to Britain," Mr Pollard said.

Extradition wrangle, page 2