Trader with a taste for publicity in City arrest

Self-styled 'currency expert' held on suspicion of operating unauthorised foreign exchange scheme

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The Independent Online

A currency trader who partied with celebrities including Katie Price and ran up a £200,000 bar bill has been arrested after an investigation by the City watchdog.

Alex Hope, 23, was held by City of London Police working with the Financial Services Authority on suspicion of operating an unauthorised foreign exchange trading scheme.

The self-proclaimed currency expert tried to make a name for himself with a string of media appearances, describing himself on his website as "a talented, charismatic and thoroughly likeable man... you can't help but respect and admire this self-taught and self-made young trader."

He was best known for his party antics, however, particularly the bar bill he ran up at the Playground Club in Liverpool's Hilton Hotel last month including £125,000 on a 30-litre, double-Nebuchadnezzar bottle of Armand de Brignac champagne, as well as further bottles of champagne and vodka.

Guests at the event included the Manchester City footballers Joe Hart and Adam Johnson and Wayne Rooney's wife, Coleen.

On his website Mr Hope described making his first trade while he was still working in catering at Wembley Stadium, saying: "I taught myself economics from books, online research and regular viewing of relevant TV channels." He told an interviewer: "On the day I started India raised its rates. It worked in my favour – I made £600 on my first day", and said he now earned a six-figure salary.

But his luck may have ended. The FSA said: "With the assistance of the City of London Police, the Financial Services Authority executed a search warrant at an address in east London in connection with an investigation into a suspected unauthorised foreign exchange trading scheme. A 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of committing offences under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and the Fraud Act 2006." The FSA did not identify the arrested man, and it is understood that no charges have been made. Mr Hope's publicist did not return calls.

Last night Mr Hope's Twitter feed had been taken down and his personal website was suspended. His self-promotion work remained splattered all over the internet, however.

He described himself as a "name to watch out for in the City, an expert in the UK economy," and set up his own "showreel" on YouTube, in which he said: "You don't see a lot of people my age in the City doing what I do. And I feel I have got a lot of good opinions of the markets which you don't hear from people my age."

Photos on Mr Hope's website showed him partying with Katie Price and driving a yellow Lamborghini convertible. Elsewhere, in an interview, Mr Hope said: "Certain people at banks are giving banks a bad name by taking on big risks which are not paying off."