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Md. Currency Trader Pleads Innocent

June 12, 2002

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BALTIMORE (AP) _ A currency trader pleaded innocent Wednesday to federal charges that he fraudulently hid $691 million in losses to maintain his six-figure income.

John Rusnak, 37, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in the world’s biggest banking scandal since a lone employee brought down England’s Barings Bank in 1995.

Rusnak allegedly ran up the losses at Allfirst Financial over five years, mostly from trading the Japanese yen. He dug himself a bigger and bigger hole as he tried to recoup his losses by taking ever-larger risks, investigators said.

Rusnak man did not directly profit from the trading losses, but falsified trading records to conceal them so he could keep earning bonuses tied to his performance, investigators said.

Rusnak’s attorney, David B. Irwin, also requested a jury trial. A trial date was not set.

``We are pleading not guilty to all counts in the indictment,″ Irwin told U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm.

Rusnak faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each of seven counts of bank fraud and making false entries. He is free on his own recognizance.

The indictment followed a four-month investigation into Rusnak’s trading at Allfirst, a U.S. subsidiary of Ireland’s biggest bank, Allied Irish Banks PLC.

Prosecutors said Rusnak made fictitious entries in the bank’s computerized record system to conceal the trading losses between 1997 and 2001 and generate a record of false profits for the bank.

Rusnak collected bonuses and salary totaling about $850,000 over the last five years, the federal prosecutor said.

The case is the biggest bank fraud case since trader Nick Leeson lost more than $1 billion for Barings Bank and caused it to collapse in 1995.

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