Silver screen beckons for jailbird Leeson

Stephen Fay on a film about the man who broke Barings

Nick Leeson, the man who broke Barings Bank, has reached the rueful conclusion that if he had known about his punishment while he was committing his crime, he probably would have run off with pounds 20m of Barings' money.

This is the sum the administrators, Ernst & Young, have long suspected Leeson salted away. Leeson has always denied that he gained personally from the pounds 869m collapse of Barings.

The news of Leeson comes from the man who might be able to make him some money - James Deardon, the Englishman who wrote the script for the Hollywood hit Fatal Attraction. He is to make a film of Rogue Trader, Leeson's own account of the affair.

Mr Deardon, who has also written the script, visited Leeson at Tanah Merah jail in Singapore, where, if he gets remission, he has two more years of his six-and-a-half-year sentence to serve. Euan McGregor, the star of Trainspotting, has already been cast as Leeson.

Apart from Leeson's wife, Lisa, and the British consul in Singapore, Mr Deardon is the only outsider Leeson has spoken to since he went to jail in December 1995.

He reports that, having lost a lot of weight, Leeson looks "lean and mean". He complains that his cell, which he shares with two other prisoners, is "the size of a broom cupboard", but he finds the local diet "OK". He has learned some Malay from fellow prisoners, and he is bored. "It's not a happy place and he's not a happy man. He's surviving," says Mr Deardon, "but he's certainly paying his dues."

His loneliness is compounded by the fact that his wife, Lisa, is finding it difficult to get to Singapore as often as she would like. Working as a steward on Virgin Airways doesn't pay enough for her to meet the cost of travel to Singapore for each monthly visit Leeson is permitted.

Mr Deardon talked to Leeson for 20 minutes in an interview room crowded with the families of other prisoners: "It was pretty gruesome," he says. He had expected the meeting to take place in a private room, but Leeson is granted no privileges in Tanah Merah. "No one can appear to give him special favours because of who he is," says Mr Deardon.

Leeson had to wait three months for a new pair of trainers, and the covers of four hard-back crime novels Mr Deardon had brought for him were torn off in case they were used as offensive weapons.

Leeson, who is the only European English-speaker in the jail, does not talk about his role in Barings' collapse, and is still subject to occasional interviews by the Singapore Fraud Squad, although Mr Deardon's impression is that they have, reluctantly, come to believe Leeson's story.

Mr Deardon wants to make the movie because he is drawn to people who get caught up in events that spiral out of control. "I believe in the cock-up theory. I don't think he set out to defraud the bank," he said. "He put his toe in the water and ended up 50 feet under."

Mr Deardon rejects suggestions that the film will make Leeson's life more comfortable after his release. The film, which is being made by a company involving Sir David Frost, who bought the book rights for a modest sum, would be expected to make profits of pounds 3m on a budget of pounds 10.5m if it were a success.

Mr Deardon comments: "People don't make money out of a movie unless it's a mega-hit. It could make pounds 3m or lose pounds 3m, but Leeson's percentage would be minuscule." Mr Deardon adds: "I came away feeling quite sorry for him."

Back in London, 11 former employees of Barings who were bamboozled by Leeson have been told by the Department of Trade and Industry that they may be listed as unfit to be company directors. They feel no pity at all.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before