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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 13:22 GMT
How rogue traders lose billions
Trader watches his screen
The SocGen trader was familiar with the bank's internal controls
A Paris-based trader working for Societe Generale has cheated the French bank out of 4.9bn euros ($7.1bn), in what appears to be the biggest fraud by a single trader in banking history.

Societe Generale said it discovered last week that a trader concealed massive trading positions built up over 2007 and 2008 through "a scheme of elaborate fictitious transactions".

The bank alleges he used in-depth knowledge of the control procedures gained while working in the bank's middle office in his former job.

He joins a long line of "rogue traders", whose dodgy dealings have cost their employers dearly.


The best-known rogue trader is Nick Leeson, who bankrupted British bank Barings in 1995.

Nick Leeson
Mr Leeson now lives in Ireland

Barings collapsed after Mr Leeson, the bank's Singapore general manager of futures trading, lost 860m - then worth $1.38bn - on Asian futures markets, wiping out the bank's cash reserves.

The company was bought for 1 after being in business for more than 230 years.

After going on the run, Mr Leeson was jailed for four years in Singapore's Changi prison.

He was released in 1999 and wrote a bestseller, Rogue Trader, now a movie starring Ewan McGregor.

Mr Leeson is now chief executive of Irish football club Galway United.


More recently, Chinese metals trader Liu Qibing disappeared in 2005 after betting wrongly that copper prices were going to fall and amassing huge losses.

He was thought to be a copper dealer for the Chinese State Reserve Bureau at the London Metals Exchange.

However, the Chinese State Reserve Bureau denied Mr Liu's existence - despite LME traders saying they knew him as China's main copper trader.


In 2002, US currency trader John Rusnak was charged with covering up $691m (474m) of trading losses so that he could boost his own earnings.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of bank fraud, false entry in bank records and aiding and abetting.

The indictment followed a four-month investigation into trading at Allfirst Financial, a subsidiary of Allied Irish Bank (AIB), from 1997 to 2001.

Prosecutors said the trader did not actually profit from the trading losses, mostly on the Japanese yen.


Yasuo Hamanaka
Mr Hamanaka forged signatures

Less well-known, but financially even bigger was the 1.3bn blown away by Yasuo Hamanaka, a metals trader at Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo.

Mr Hamanaka, known as Mr Five Per Cent on account of his share of the world copper market, was jailed for eight years in 1996 after admitting to a 10-year career of unauthorised dealing.

He had forged the signatures of two of his superiors in letters written to foreign dealers.


Smaller but spicier was the case of Peter Young, a fund manager at City bank Morgan Grenfell, later acquired by Deutsche Bank.

In 1996, Mr Young was revealed to have bilked 220m from the funds he ran, thanks to a series of unauthorised investments he concealed.

The case returned to the headlines when Mr Young appeared at City of London Magistrates' Court wearing a woman's jumper and dress - and was eventually found unfit to stand trial.

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