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TheStreet Open House

5 Biggest Rogue Traders -- and Could It Happen Here?

Stocks in this article: UBS SCGLY AIB

5. Nick Leeson

Nick Leeson is the most famous rogue trader there is, not least because he managed to take down a whole bank down with him.

Leeson's fraudulent and speculative trades cost 233-year old Barings Bank, which counted the Queen of England as a client, a whopping $1.3 billion in losses, wiping out its reserves and capital.

Leeson made millions for Barings as a derivatives trader on the floor of the Singapore monetary exchange by betting on the future of the Nikkei Index. However, his luck soon turned and Leeson began to hide his losses, using error accounts- accounts used to correct mistakes in trading. He continued to bet more and more money to try and extricate himself from the mess, but that strategy failed.

In 1995, he was arrested and extradited to Singapore, where he was sentenced to six- and- a half years in prison. His wife left him soon after and he was subsequently diagnosed with colon cancer.

Leeson, of course, managed to capitalize on his fraud. After being released out of prison in 1999, he went on to write a book on his experience for which he was paid a substantial fee. The book was then turned into a movie called Rogue Trader, starring Ewan McGregor.

How is this for irony? In 2001, he got a psychology degree and now spends much of his time making presentations to companies about risk management, according to his official website.

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