Leeson’s Wife Visits Him in Prison, Warden Says ‘Time is Near’
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Trader Nicholas Leeson, awaiting extradition to Singapore to stand trial for his role in the collapse of a British bank, had a prison visit today from his wife.
Today is not the normal visiting day at the Hoechst prison, and that increased speculation Leeson would fly out of Germany tonight. His wife, Lisa Leeson, came from her home in Britain and was brought into the prison on an unpublicized visit reported by the warden.
Leeson is charged with fraud and forgery in Singapore, where he managed the Singapore operations of Britain’s Barings Bank. After the bank went broke, Leeson fled Singapore and boarded a flight to Britain, but was arrested on a stopover in Frankfurt at the request of Singapore police.
``He knows his time is drawing near,″ said Hadmut Jung-Silberreis, warden of the Hoechst prison, where Leeson, 28, has been held since March.
Sources in Singapore said they expected Leeson to arrive Thursday, but neither the warden, the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office, nor Leeson’s British or German attorneys would confirm his exact departure time or date.
Once in Singapore, Leeson will be formally charged in a magistrate’s court on 11 counts, including forging documents and opening a fictitious bank account to cover his unauthorized trades while working for Barings from the floor of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange.
If convicted in Singapore, Leeson faces a maximum 14 years in prison. By pleading guilty and making a plea bargain, he could cut his prison time to one or two years, legal experts have said.
Barings went broke in late February under the weight of nearly $1.4 billion in losses piled up by Leeson’s bets on the future of the Tokyo stock exchange.
A Singapore investigation report said top Barings executives also may be guilty of inaction, wrongdoing and cover-up.
The head of Singapore’s financial exchange was quoted today as saying that the exchange was not damaged by the Barings collapse.
If anything, SIMEX’s ability to deal with the crisis ``demonstrates that the system works,″ SIMEX chairwoman Elizabeth Sam said in an interview that appeared today on Asia Business News television.