Nick Leeson—whose rogue trading brought down the London-based Barings Bank in 1995—seems to have learned from his mistakes, or at least from the time he spent in prison for them.According to a report in yesterday’s Telegraph, Leeson told BBC One’s “Breakfast” program that the Barclays traders involved in the Libor rate-rigging scandal should be sent to prison for their mistakes.
This is an interesting move for the man who spent four years (he was sentenced to six-and-a-half but got out early after a cancer diagnosis) behind bars for the £827 million he lost for Barings due to his unauthorised speculative trades.
Here’s what Leeson told BBC:
Manipulation, rigging is completely against the rules. Everybody knows that it is wrong. Everybody working within any financial institutions appreciates that but if you are allowed to do it and you only get a slap on the wrist, you will continue to do it.
And the £290 fine that Barclay’s faces now is exactly that slap on the wrist that Leeson advises against—it’s a “drop in the ocean” for the bank, Leeson told BBC. “Tougher action needs to be taken.”
He blamed this in part on the U.K.’s weak financial regulation, relative to that in the U.S., which he called “proactive” and “challenging,” citing the frequency of prosecution on this side of the Atlantic:
In you look back at the financial scandals in America there have been so many prosecutions and so many people going to jail for insider trading and blatant fraud.
Either way, we’ll find out pretty soon if regulators decide to listen to Leeson’s lesson.