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Barings Trader Fades From Public View Behind Prison Walls

March 30, 1995

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Nick Leeson, the futures trader who once brokered huge financial deals across continents, can now make a phone call only in an emergency.

He lives behind a wooden door with a peephole in the Frankfurt prison he shares with suspected forgers, murderers and drug dealers. Visitors are allowed about once a week.

Leeson was arrested at Frankfurt International Airport on March 2 as he tried to get home to Britain, one step ahead of a Singapore subpoena for his arrest. His high-risk trading in Singapore led to the collapse of Barings Bank.

Singapore officials are seeking Leeson’s extradition on fraud charges, and he may remain in jail for months while a German court sorts through evidence being sent by Singapore.

Leeson’s attorneys are fighting the extradition request, but say he would not oppose being sent to Britain for trial because he thinks he would get better treatment there than in Singapore.

Meanwhile Leeson is living in a cell with a bed, a toilet, a closet, a wash basin and a table, said Hadmut Jung-Silberreis, director of the prison, known simply as Frankfurt Detention Facility 2.

He gets meals from a cart pushed down the corridor, and takes the food back into his cell to eat. Breakfast might be a roll with cheese or marmalade, lunch a hot stew.

``I think he has come to terms with his situation,″ Jung-Silberreis said.

About 160 inmates are at the prison in Frankfurt’s industrial Hoechst section. The two-building complex is made of brick and yellow-painted masonry, with barbed wire on top of the iron gate.

Most of the inmates are awaiting trial on charges ranging from white-collar crime to murder.

At least one accused murderer lives in Leeson’s wing of about 20 inmates, said Jung-Silberreis.

There are occasional fights between prisoners who were competing drug dealers before they were jailed, she said. But if a prisoner becomes threatening, he is moved to another jail.

Prisoners can wear civilian clothes and they can roam the hallways, decorated with fish tanks and potted plants.

``We have a little prison shop where inmates can get cigarettes, shampoo and other personal things,″ said Jung-Silberreis.

Leeson’s wife, Lisa, and other relatives visit him about once a week, bringing fresh clothes and leaving with his dirty laundry, the warden said. Mrs. Leeson has reportedly moved into an apartment in Frankfurt to be close to her husband.

Back home in Britain, Leeson has become something of a mockery.

The Independent newspaper in London is running a ``Lose Your Bearings″ competition, in which players see who can lose the most money in an imaginary Asian stock portfolio. Whoever loses the most by April 4 gets a vacation to Singapore, including a stopover in Frankfurt.

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