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Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 09:51 GMT
Rogue trader 'Mr Middle America'
John Rusnak
It is unclear if John Rusnak has benefited financially
The words "rogue trader" conjure up a piratical, swashbuckling image, of a hotshot here today and gone tomorrow.

But in the case of Allfirst employee and "Mr Middle America" John Rusnak, nothing, it seems, could be further from the truth.


He seems like a really cool guy. His kids are cool. I'm shocked

Ricardo Gray
Rusnak neighbour
According to his superiors at Allfirst, AIB's Baltimore-based subsidiary, he had been with the company since 1993.

His salary of $85,000 a year is relatively modest by the standards of foreign exchange traders.

"Up until Monday he was an employee of good standing," said Susan Keating, head of Allfirst Bank.

Not exactly Jekyll and Hyde

Yet this is the man who stands accused of running a complex fraud to cover up the loss of $750m (529m), bamboozling the controls which banks are meant to have in place to stop precisely that kind of behaviour.

Despite reports of a manhunt, Mr Rusnak's lawyer told reporters that he and his client were talking to the US Attorney's office in Baltimore on Wednesday.

John Rusnak
37 years old
Married to Linda; 2 daughters
Allfirst employee since 1993
Salary: $85,000
School board member
Arts centre volunteer
"My client is not a fugitive," he said, stressing that whatever had happened no theft had taken place.

Officials at Allfirst, one of the US's 50 biggest banks, argue that Mr Rusnak must have had help from other employees to pull it off.

If it turns out that collusion did not take place, the bank's internal regulation will have been shown to be in tatters - deadly for its reputation.

'Upstanding'

Whether or not the affair ends up as a solo act of inspired desperation or a concerted effort to defraud, nothing in Mr Rusnak's background suggested that something like this could happen.

John Rusnak's home
It seems John Rusnak has not run away after all
Before joining AIB he worked for Chemical Bank - now part of investment giant JP Morgan Chase - with no sign of misbehaviour.

And outside the bank, it seems the words "pillar of the community" fit Mr Rusnak like a glove.

Mr Rusnak and his wife Linda live in Mount Washington, a leafy, comfortable suburb of Baltimore with their two daughters.

Their late 19th-century house, set back from the road and surrounded by conifers and oaks, is entirely characteristic of the area.

He volunteers at a local not-for-profit ceramic arts centre, Baltimore Clayworks.

And he is on the board of the local Catholic School of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart which his daughters attend.

"He seems like a really cool guy," said Ricardo Gray, a neighbour.

"His kids are cool. I'm shocked."

See also:

22 Jun 99 | The Economy
How Leeson broke the bank
22 Jun 99 | The Economy
Leeson scandal 'could happen again'
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