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Nicholas William "Nick" Leeson  born 25 February is a former derivatives broker whose fraudulent, unauthorised speculative trading , for which he was sentenced to prison, caused the spectacular collapse of Barings Bank , the United Kingdom 's oldest merchant bank.
Between and he had management roles at League of Ireland club Galway United. He is also active on the keynote and after-dinner speaking circuit, where he advises companies about risk and corporate responsibility.
Leeson was born in Watford , where he attended Parmiter's School. After finishing school in his first job was as a clerk with a private bank, Coutts. He then moved to Morgan Stanley in for two years, and then to Barings in Leeson was sent to Singapore after he was denied a broker's licence in the United Kingdom because of fraud on his application. From , Leeson made unauthorised speculative trades that at first made large profits for Barings: However, Leeson's luck soon went sour and he used one of Barings' error accounts accounts used to correct mistakes made in trading to hide his losses.
The account was numbered — 8 being a number considered to be very lucky in Chinese numerology as it rhymes with "Prosper". However, as this also reads as "Five 8s", where "Five" in Cantonese rhymes with "won't" or "without", the net phrase is "Won't Prosper". However, Leeson used this account to cover further bad trades. Management at Barings Bank also allowed Leeson to remain chief trader while also being responsible for settling his trades, jobs usually done by two different people.
This made it much simpler for him to hide his losses from his superiors. The beginning of the end occurred on 16 January , when Leeson placed a short straddle in the Singapore and Tokyo stock exchanges, essentially betting that the Japanese stock market would not move significantly overnight.
However, the Kobe earthquake hit early in the morning on 17 January, sending Asian markets, and Leeson's trading positions, into a tailspin. Leeson attempted to recoup his losses by making a series of increasingly risky new trades using a long-long future arbitrage , this time betting that the Nikkei Stock Average would make a rapid recovery.
However, the recovery failed to materialise. Leeson left a note reading "I'm Sorry" and fled Singapore on 23 February. After a failed bailout attempt, Barings, which had been the United Kingdom's oldest merchant bank, was declared insolvent on 26 February. After fleeing to Malaysia , Thailand , and finally Germany , Leeson was arrested in Frankfurt and extradited back to Singapore on 20 November , though his wife Lisa was allowed to return to England.
While he had authorisation for the 16 January short straddle, he was charged with fraud for deceiving his superiors about the riskiness of his activities and the scale of his losses.
Several observers have placed much of the blame on the bank's own deficient internal auditing and risk management practices. Indeed, the Singapore authorities' report on the collapse was scathingly critical of Barings management, claiming that senior officials knew or should have known about the "five eights" account.
Leeson pleaded guilty to two counts of "deceiving the bank's auditors and of cheating the Singapore exchange",  including forging documents. While in prison, in , Leeson published an autobiography, Rogue Trader , detailing his acts. A review in the financial columns of the New York Times stated, "This is a dreary book, written by a young man very taken with himself, but it ought to be read by banking managers and auditors everywhere.
The events also form the subject matter of a television documentary made by Adam Curtis , titled Inside Story Special: Leeson's first wife Lisa divorced him while he was in prison. He is a regular guest on the after-dinner and keynote speaking circuit   and occasional guest lecturer at the nearby National University of Ireland.
He was appointed commercial manager of Galway United F. In June , Leeson released a new book, Back from the Brink: It picks up his story where Rogue Trader left off, including in-depth conversations with psychologist Ivan Tyrrell asserting that the prolonged periods of severe stress that affected Leeson's mental and physical health [ context?
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