20 Heads Roll At Barings Bank
LONDON (AP) _ The Dutch owners of Barings Holding Co. Ltd., impatient at the pace of an official inquiry into the collapse of Britain’s oldest investment bank, removed 20 executives Monday who it blamed for the debacle.
ING Group, an Amsterdam-based banking and financial conglomerate, had originally said no one would be fired until British banking regulators completed their investigation into Barings’ spectacular failure on Asian futures markets.
But ING said the Bank of England probe is taking too long, aggravating uncertainties about the future direction of Barings, so it removed top Barings executives in London, Tokyo and Singapore _ where trader Nick Leeson made the deals that busted Barings.
``Our review has confirmed that the problem stemming from Singapore was extraordinary and not endemic,″ said Hessel Lindenbergh, the ING executive now in control of Barings. ``It is a problem we have put behind us. We now turn our attention to the future.″
Lindenbergh acknowledged that ING would have preferred to wait for a report from the Board of Banking Supervision.
``With the recent clarification of the timetable of this report, however, it has become evident that the uncertainties created both internally and externally by continuing to defer management action would be damaging.″
The official probe into the Barings collapse is not expected to be completed for weeks.
ING wanted to clean out the tainted executive suite before the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday in Amsterdam, where shareholders seem likely to raise questions, according to an executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Barings PLC went bust in February after Leeson lost millions through erroneous bets that Tokyo stock prices would rise, costing Barings about $1.38 billion and wiping out the bank’s capital base. Leeson is now jailed in Germany and fighting extradition to Singapore.
After attempts to rescue Barings failed, the bank was placed under control of court-appointed administrators who agreed to let ING take over Barings’ key subsidiaries by assuming its liabilities and recapitalizing the bank, at a cost of $1.06 billion.
In a written statement, Lindenbergh said the departed Barings executives had ``functional responsibility (whether direct or indirect) for the Singapore derivatives business.″
The departed executives include Ron Baker, head of the financial products group, based in London, and James Bax, regional manager, Southeast Asia, based in Singapore.
Other heads to roll in London included Anthony Hawes, former group treasurer; Geoffrey Barnett, chief operating officer; Geoffrey Broadhurst, finance director; Tony Gamby, head of settlements; Brenda Granger, head of futures and options settlements; Ian Hopkins, head of group treasury and risk; George MacLean, head of bank group, Helen Smith, manager of market risk; and Mary Walz, global head of equity derivatives.
The other Singapore executives to lose their jobs are Simon Jones, regional operations manager for Southeast Asia; and Rachel Yong, financial controller.
The Tokyo executives were William Daniel, branch manager for Japan; Fernando Gueler, head of equity derivatives; Motoharu Hanawa, treasurer; Hideo Kaneko, head of settlements; Vincent Sue, risk manager; Satoshi Yamada, head of futures and options settlements; and Teruo Yashima, financial controller and manager in Osaka.
Peter Norris, who had previously stepped aside as chief executive of Barings Investment Bank, had remained with the company as an adviser but he also resigned on Monday.
Last month, ING had accepted the resignation of the former Barings chairman, Peter Baring, and his deputy, Andrew Tuckey. Tuckey will remain with the company as an adviser, Barings said.