Trader, Kareem Serageldin, pleads guilty to role in banking crash

Former Credit Suisse employee convicted for mortgage fraud

In a case described by lawyers as a "tale of greed run amok", a trader who hid a £351m loss so he could pocket a £4.5m bonus has become the most senior City figure to be convicted for the kind of mortgage fraud that helped precipitate the global financial crisis.

Kareem Serageldin, the former global head of Credit Suisse's structured credit trading, deliberately inflated the value of mortgages and bonds from his Canary Wharf office and, it was claimed, ordered two others in his team, David Higgs and Salmaan Siddiqui, to do the same.

Serageldin's lies contributed to a £1.7bn write-down in the company's 2007 year-end financial results, but more disastrously helped to mask the failure of the sub-prime mortgage market which caused the collapse of the banking system.

After years of being pursued by US authorities, who eventually extradited him from the UK to face justice, Serageldin finally pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a packed New York City courtroom on Friday. His conviction will go a small way to answering claims that those responsible for the financial crisis have escaped being held to account for their actions. But it also raises the question of why the UK seems incapable of launching prosecutions in the same way as US authorities have done.

Born in Egypt, Serageldin moved to the US as a child and studied at Yale. He knew Credit Suisse traders were required to price securities they held at their market value on a daily basis, but, when their value dropped as the US housing market declined in 2007, he and others kept booking the mortgages and bonds artificially high. The scam was set to bring Serageldin more than £4.5m before the company discovered the fraud in 2008 after an internal audit. It then sacked the three men and withheld £3.4m of Serageldin's bonus.

In February last year, the US Security and Exchange Commission charged the three men with fraud. Serageldin was arrested outside the US Embassy in London in September after the American authorities became alarmed that the disgraced banker was seeking to revoke his US citizenship, reportedly because he hoped this would allow him to serve any sentence he might face in the UK. After his London arrest, prosecutors at Westminster Magistrates Court described the case as a "tale of greed run amok".

He told the US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein he did it "to preserve my reputation in the bank at a time when there was great financial turmoil in the marketplace". Higgs and Siddiqui previously pleaded guilty to overstating the value of the mortgage-backed assets, which were held in a portfolio called ABN1. But both men, who agreed to co-operate with prosecutors, claimed they acted at Serageldin's direction. Under a plea agreement with the government, Serageldin agreed to forfeit £650,000 as proceeds of the crime, and under federal sentencing guidelines, Serageldin is likely to receive about five years in prison when he is sentenced on 2 August.

Serageldin told the court: "I made a terrible mistake and I deeply regret my conduct."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Women protest at the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh
tvReview: It's a tough watch, but the details of the brutal gang rape and murder of medical student need to be shared if we want to strive for global gender equality
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
Jeffrey Archer holds up a copy of 'Kane and Abel', a book he says was ripped-off by Bollywood
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot