|W. W. Norton & Company
In February 1995, the unthinkable happened: one of the oldest and most respected merchant banks in London went bankrupt. The story that rogue Barings trader Nick Leeson lost hundreds of millions of pounds speculating in the Far East was front-page news throughout the world. Accused of fraud on a massive scale, Leeson first strenuously opposed being tried in Singapore, then eventually was taken there from his prison in Frankfurt. In December 1995 he pleaded guilty - and the trial began and ended within two days. As a result, the prosecution case against Leeson was not heard. What really happened to cause the downfall of the Queen's bank, and who was actually responsible?
In The Collapse of Barings, Stephen Fay investigates the facts behind the headlines and discovers a closed network of privilege, greed, and incompetence. In the rapidly changing system of global finance, the directors of Barings came to rely on people they hardly knew - like Nick Leeson - to make their fortunes in markets they did not fully understand, like SIMEX in Singapore. The plasterer's son from Watford was still in his mid-twenties when he rose to become the golden boy of Barings, claiming to have made profits of ten million dollars in one week. His London bosses watched passively as a culture of speculation grew until it eventually destroyed them, and changed the face of London's financial heartland.