You know the expression “a tough act to follow”? Well, soon after he was released from prison, Nick Leeson started appearing on the lecture circuit, and I found myself timetabled to speak just before him at a conference in London. That’s a tough act to lead out – I don’t think people listened to a word I said about AML training (I know, I know – usually a fascinating subject) as they strained to catch a glimpse of the boy himself waiting just off-stage. So I was predisposed to loathe him – quite apart from him being a criminal and all that – but actually he came across very well: contrite and even humble.
So it was with interest that I listened to “The Reunion” on Radio 4 last week, as Sue MacGregor brought together for the first time in fifteen years Mr Leeson and his former boss at Barings, Peter Norris, plus a few other interested parties (although no ordinary Barings personal investors who might have had something to say about how the last fifteen years had gone for them). And better late than never, but Leeson did finally apologise to Mr Norris. Mr Norris was gracious enough but I’m not really sure how I feel about it all, except that it’s another example of people continuing to make money from their crimes: Leeson is a regular on the after-dinner speaker circuit (presumably “How I crushed a bank into the ground while wearing a silly jacket”) and has published two books (one on the fraud itself, and the second on surviving the stress brought on by the fraud). Might we now expect a third, on the feelings of well-being that come from being forgiven for a fraud?