June 7 - Former rogue trader Nick Leeson brought down British investment bank Barings bank after generating losses as a junior trader of $1.4 billion. Kirsty Basset reports he's now helping troubled Irish borrowers deal with their own financial messes.
He was once the bad boy of high finance. Former rogue trader Nick Leeson made global headlines when his 1.4 billion dollar trading loss in Singapore was uncovered. It led to the 1995 collapse of British investment bank Barings. His life was turned into a film and he's spent the last thirteen years on the speaking circuit, sharing his cautionary tale of spiraling losses and excessive risk taking. For his crimes he spent three years in jail in Singapore -- but now he's back in the financial world, this time helping others come to terms with their financial woes -- specifically Irish borrowers struggling to repay their debts. His new employer, GDP partners, believes his infamous experience will come in handy, as does Leeson himself. SOUNDBITE: Former rogue trader, Nick Leeson, saying (English): "The problem in Ireland at the moment is that everybody's disengaged. You'd be shocked by some of the figures I can give you. We've come across people who haven't paid their mortgage or any of their buy-to-let interest in 4 or 5 years. It just wouldn't happen in any other country in the world. So it's about getting people to reengage with the banks and try to mediate a solution because there has to be pain on both sides." While Leeson brought down Barings, Ireland's massive property bubble led to the unraveling of the entire country's economy, leaving banks to deal with a mountain of debt. Leeson's new role will involve advising clients on new bankruptcy laws and negotiating with banks to help settle debts of up to 3 million euros. He says banks and borrowers are to blame for the country's financial mess - coming to the defense of the banking industry which has largely been held up as the villain. SOUNDBITE: Former rogue trader, Nick Leeson, saying (English): "It's unfortunate that everybody gets blamed for the wrongdoing of a few. I suppose for a time that wrongdoing was mine, and that painted a picture for everybody at that time. What we see at the moment is a consequence of reckless lending on behalf of a number of banks, excessive risk taking, and it has coloured people's views." As someone with first hand experience of life both inside and very much outside the banking world, he's no doubt in a very good position to help lenders and borrowers with their debt woes.