Leeson's Prison Life Reported
Jul. 04, 1999
SINGAPORE (AP) _ Before rogue trader Nick Leeson was released Saturday, little was known about his life in a Singapore prison, where he had spent 3 1/2 years for toppling Britain's oldest bank.
Now, Singapore's leading newspaper described Sunday how the cocky, high-flying young trader was in December 1995 transformed overnight into prisoner 38406-96, dressed in blue-and-white prison clothes.
``From chalking up numbers, he ended up cutting cloth; he became the prison's tailor,'' The Sunday Times said.
Working for Barings Bank in Singapore, Leeson made unauthorized futures trades worth $1.4 billion that led to the 1995 collapse of the bank. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison by a Singapore court.
Leeson, 32, left prison Saturday, after only 3 1/2 years because of time off for good behavior. While in prison, he was diagnosed and treated for colon cancer.
Prison authorities had barred media visits and interviews.
The Sunday Times revealed Leeson was treated like any other prisoner.
He slept on a straw mat like his two cell mates, in a hot and humid cell, the report said.
When Leeson asked for a room with shower and TV, he was refused.
``The man who loved cold beers and McDonald's Big Macs ... had to adapt to Asian prison fare,'' it said.
A former prison mate, interviewed by the newspaper, said Leeson kept to himself.
``No one wanted to talk to him because, you know, he's an `angmo' (white man), and everyone thought, `high profile case, better avoid,''' Pali Singh, a convicted drug pusher, was quoted by the paper as saying.
Tongue-in-cheek, the newspaper also suggested 10 jobs the newly freed Leeson can now try for.
Among the suggestions are: a white-collar crime buster, a roving consultant to financial regulators and a prison-wear designer, teaching how to sew your own wardrobe after losing the shirt off your back.