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Nick Leeson - The Rogue Trader: How One Man Lost $1 Billion & Bounced Back

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The biggest financial scandal of the 20th century.

Nick Leeson’s unchecked risk-taking and drive for success caused the collapse of Barings Bank – arguably the biggest financial scandal of the 20th century – for which he was sentenced to six and a half years in Changi Prison in Singapore.

The Collapse of Baring’s Bank

Imagine what it would be like if you lost a billion dollars and caused the downfall of one of Britain’s oldest banks?

This is exactly what Nick Leeson did. If you were around in the 1990’s, Nick was infamous. His photo was on the cover of every financial newspaper and he caused a major financial crisis through his rogue trading.

Rogue Trader

Better known as the “Rogue Trader”, Nick is famous for causing the fall of Barings Bank in 1995. Arguably the biggest financial scandal of the twentieth century, he lost an estimated £826 Million trading derivatives and caused the bankruptcy of Barings Bank.

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He was sentenced to six and a half years in a Singapore prison and during this time he wrote his autobiography “Rogue Trader”, which was made into a movie starring Ewan McGregor.

Learning from Mistakes

Today Nick spends his time advising major financial institutions around the world, ensuring they learn from their mistakes and maintain the correct compliance, control, and transparency.

I loved talking to Nick. It brought back all these crazy memories of my time as a trader and regardless of whether or not you like trading, you’re going to love Nick’s story.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Derivatives, the Singapore Prison System, and Barings Bank
  • His childhood, time in school, and his mother
  • Spoofing, securities, and trading Hong Kong futures
  • Auditors, forgeries, and fraud
  • Negligence, and the psychology of status and power
  • Being caught in the Frankfurt airport and spending time in German prisons
  • Triad gangs in prison, colon cancer, and his book

Chapters

00:00 | Trailer.
03:03 | Brian’s thoughts on the episode.
04:41 | Brian’s introduction.
05:21 | London, where Nick Leeson’s banking career started and the background that led to it.
10:20 | Flying high aged 25, by age 28 he was starting a 6½ year prison sentence.
11:12 | What derivatives are and the compliance issues around them.
19:30 | The “wild west” in Singapore and where it all went wrong.
43:47 | Today, Nick’s initial reaction might possibly be different.
48:00 | Expecting a knock on the door every single minute of every single day.
59:57 | The lessons this experience has taught Nick.
1:06:53 | Fear of no longer being seen as successful, or loss of status, stopped him from walking away.
1:13:15 | Nick’s life spirals out of control.
1:25:00 | Nick makes hurried departure from Singapore, followed by Baring’s Bank collapse.
1:30:38 | Described at the time as the wake-up call that no-one would ever forget, but it could happen again.
1:39:06 | Did Nick ever think he would end up in jail and what it was like.
1:47:46 | Divorce and cancer diagnosis.
1:54:40 | How prison changed him.
1:58:31 | Success secrets.
1:59:24 | Best advice he has ever received.
2:00:26 | Advice to the young trader or young person in the banking industry listening.
2:01:42 | What it was like to have Ewan McGregor portray him in the film Rogue Trader.
2:02:08 | Brian’s summing up.

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