Nick Leeson, the “rogue trader, met his old boss from Barings Bank for the first time since he single-handedly caused its downfall and offered a genuine apology for his actions. Peter Norris, the Chairman of Virgin Group Holdings, spoke with Leeson when the two were brought together for a radio programme at the BBC.
Losses of £750 million
Nick Leeson brought about the downfall of the Bank after amassing losses of £750 million during 1995. He was given a six and a half year jail sentence in Singapore and served a little more than three years.
He had set up a secret account, the infamously named “five-eights” account to hide his losses, and had forged documents and deceived the bank’s auditors.
Nick Leeson said: “I was losing tens of millions of pounds on a daily basis. I never thought the bank would collapse.”
“I think I wanted to punch your lights out” said Peter Norris who saw the arrest on TV.
The Bank was the nation’s oldest merchant bank, founded in 1762 and was famous for its “word is my bond” approach to banking. Its crash really put the financial establishment on its head.
Greed and Fear
A former colleague Nicholas Edwards described Leeson as “struck by a mixture of greed and fear over a number of years.” Mr Edwards was not sympathetic towards Mr Leeson and strongly believes that he had made a great deal of people suffer.
After his release from prison, Nick Leeson has gone on to write a few books and has worked to gain a degree in psychology. Having risen to chief executive officer at Galway United FC he resigned from the position in February this year.
Nick Leeson said of the his actions that led to the demise of the bank: “I was 25 years old. I should have turned round and asked for advice, but I didn’t. It was the most embarrassing period of my life and the only person who did anything criminal was me.”