WIFE'S COVER-UP ROLE DISMISSED

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Barings moved quickly yesterday to deny a report that Lisa Leeson, wife of the fugitive banker Nick Leeson, could have been an accomplice in his rogue trading, writes Steve Boggan.

The report, in the Daily Telegraph, said that Mrs Leeson, 26, had worked in the settlements office at Barings in Singapore, a post that would have given her the opportunity to cover up her husband's fictitious futures contracts. But the merchant bank described the report as "nonsense", insisting that she was not a member of staff. She had worked in the London settlements room until 1992 when she and Mr Leeson married.

"He was transferred to Singapore as an employee but our records show she was not a member of staff," a spokeswoman said. "There is no evidence of her having ever worked in the office in Singapore. She has no personnel file."

An employee in the "back room" at Barings Futures in Singapore told the Independent: "Lisa has never worked here. She has certainly never played a role in the settlements department."

Mrs Leeson, whose maiden name was Sims, has family in the picturesque village of West Kingsdown, in Kent.

She attended Swanley secondary school and went on to pass two A-levels in accounting and economics. Her headmaster, Douglas MacIldowie, described her yesterday as honest and reliable.

As unconfirmed reports reached London last night that Thai police believed Mr Leeson was hiding in an unnamed southern province, rumoured to be the resort of Phuket, more details about his character emerged from Singapore.

He was convicted of indecent exposure five months ago, when he dropped his trousers in front of women at a disco in the exclusive Orchard Plaza area of the city. He refused requests to apologise and dared the women to report him to police, handing over his mobile phone. He was taken before magistrates and fined S$200 (£125).

Authorities in Singapore said yesterday that Mrs Leeson had booked a flight on Silk Airlines to Phuket last week, while Mr Leeson booked into the Regent hotel in Kuala Lumpur, paying for the Malaysian $300 bill with a company credit card.

One respected newspaper in Singapore received a tip that Mr Leeson was travelling to Canada via Hong Kong under the name John Halls. But, it was not possible to confirm the report last night.

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