Saturday, July 3, 1999 Published at 00:13 GMT 01:13 UK
Business: The Company File
Leeson gets early release
What will the future hold for the man who broke the bank?
Nick Leeson is released from jail in Singapore early on Saturday, having served two-thirds of his six-and-a-half year term for the gross financial misrepresentation which brought down Barings, Britain's oldest merchant bank.
According to the Saturday edition of the Times newspaper, a court has frozen Leeson's worldwide assets, after he reportedly sold his story to a tabloid newspaper.
The Times said Leeson is expected to be served with court papers when he arrives in London on Sunday.
According to the newspaper, the court order requires Leeson to disclose his assets or risk going back to prison.
Barings liquidators have said they will pursue claims by fellow prisoners that he has boasted of having a "stash" of hidden money.
Since Leeson's trading deceptions came to light, he has not only endured a term in Singapore's notorious Changi jail. His wife left has him and remarried, and he has suffered cancer of the colon.
While he was in jail his medical care was paid for by the Singapore government, but once back in Britain he could have to finance lengthy expensive treatment himself.
As he returns home, the film of his life - Rogue Trader starring Ewan McGregor - is being screened widely and he is said to have sold the story of his time in jail to a newspaper for a six-figure sum.
Few of his former colleagues at Barings are likely to forgive his almost single-handed destruction of one of the world's proudest institutions, nor will investors who lost heavily.
The plasterer's son from Watford bankrupted Barings - the merchant bank that financed the Napoleonic wars - by speculating heavily on the Japanese markets.
The deception began to emerge in February 1995, when Leeson and his wife, Lisa, fled from Singapore. They flew to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur before travelling on to a luxury beach resort in Borneo.
They were arrested shortly afterwards in Germany as they tried to return to the UK, and Leeson was charged.
When Leeson was jailed in Singapore on two counts of financial misrepresentation, he was castigated for his deception. But an inquiry into how Barings had been brought down was also critical of his bosses in London for not adequately supervising his trading operations.
After cancer surgery, Leeson is in remission. Doctors have given him a 70% chance of surviving more than five years, but he has been reduced to a ghost of his former self. His weight plummeted and most of his hair fell out during chemotherapy treatment.
"He's lost his health, he's lost his wife, he comes back to extremely difficult prospects and I think he should sell his story."
But Leeson will continue to be dogged by questions over whether he does have a secret "stash", and his job prospects are far from rosy.
On his return to London, Leeson is to begin his new life with a news conference early on Sunday at a hotel near Heathrow. He is unlikely to receive much of a welcome.
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