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Singapore, Not Britain, Right Place to Try Leeson, Official Says

September 11, 1995

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Singapore insisted today it was the right place to try Nick Leeson, the former Barings trader blamed for losses that brought down Britain’s oldest investment bank.

Leeson, who is fighting extradition to Singapore from his prison in Germany, wants to be tried at home in Britain.

``There are charges against Mr. Leeson in Singapore for which he is wanted here to stand trial,″ said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tan Lian Choo.

She was referring to fraud and forgery charges for which Leeson faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted. She said a German court will decide in about a month whether Leeson should be sent to Singapore or not.

Tan was responding to Leeson’s interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., where he offered to advise British regulators on how to prevent other traders from repeating his mistakes. The offer appeared to be part of his attempts to escape extradition to Singapore.

Leeson apparently fears Singapore’s tough justice system, and wants to be tried in Britain because it sends white-collar criminals to low-security prisons.

BBC broadcast part of the interview Sunday and was to air the full version today.

Leeson, 28, has been blamed for accumulating $1.3 billion in debts while trading for Barings by making wrong bets on the direction of Tokyo stock market prices.

He operated from the floor of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange, and fled Feb. 23 as the weight of his trading errors brought down the 232-year-old Barings. He was arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 2 while trying to head back to London.

A Bank of England inquiry in July largely blamed Leeson for the collapse of Barings, but also criticized his superiors for not keeping track of and controlling his trades.

In the BBC interview, conducted in his prison cell, Leeson said he wants to go to jail now but that he doesn’t think of himself as a criminal. He said he always was working for the best interests of Barings.

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