Rogue trader warns financial systems need controls

computer cash

Nick Leeson, the trader responsible for the fall of Barings Bank, has said that poor information systems will mean another similar financial scandal will happen again.

Leeson, speaking at the RSA Conference in London, was responsible for the fall of Barings Bank over 14 years ago by losing more than 800 million through rogue trading activities.

He said that the scandal would never have happened if the institution had adequate systems in place that would have flagged up his activities over the three-year period.

In the UK, government regulation needed to be strengthened, which would lead to businesses and regulators having improved access to information, according Leeson.

"I think that's the challenge for anyone involved in the world of IT," he said. "Developing a system that has all the information, is able to disseminate the information, and see where there are difficulties."

"Have we learned our lessons from previous financial scandals? My answer would be is that I don't think so."

Leeson referred back to his time at Barings Bank by saying that if systems and controls were better and and didn't depend on people, he would not have been able to follow the path he went down.

"While I appreciate that it is difficult to completely remove the human involvement, I do believe that there are opportunities through the use of an effective real-time management system to mitigate their influence," he said.

Leeson said that anybody in the IT department of Barings, who he sent the trades back to, could have prevented what was happening.

Though he criticised systems that were in place, Leeson still took full responsibility for what happened, and admitted that he was a criminal who deserved to go to jail for what he did.

Edward Gibson, chief security advisor for Microsoft in the UK, said to Leeson: "I hope that by you speaking about what happened, anyone who has any thoughts about engaging in that activity will stop and think twice about what happened to you."

"I take my hat off to you for talking about the lack of controls, and we have to take a look at that no matter what field we are involved in, whether it be technology or otherwise," Gibson added.