Rogue trader Leeson to advise Irish borrowers on bank debts

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Nick Leeson, the trader whose wrong- way bets on Japanese stocks ruined Barings Plc, is joining a mediation firm to advise Irish borrowers looking to renegotiate debts in the wake of the real estate collapse, according to reports.

Leeson, 46, (pictured) who has lived in Ireland for more than ten years, will join GDP Partnership as a principal as it expands into Dublin, the company said in a statement posted on Twitter by Leeson, Bloomberg reports.

There is “a lot of fear and stress currently in the country with debt the root of the problem,” it said.

“There might be wry smiles from people when they think of me walking back into a bank to try to negotiate on their behalf,” Leeson told Dublin-based broadcaster RTE Radio today.

“I have had to face into adversity both financial, health and many other different aspects of it, so there is a certain degree of empathy with what people are facing. It is daunting.”

Ireland is grappling with the fallout from the worst real estate bust in Western Europe, with 25% of all mortgages restructured or in arrears.

While the banks aren’t necessarily the “baddies,” the housing bubble crash is largely a result of their “reckless lending,” Leeson said.

“There are a lot of individuals out there, a lot of borrowers who have got their heads firmly in the sand, who aren’t talking to anybody,” Leeson told RTE.

“They aren’t telling the wife about what is going on, the bank phones up, the wife says it’s the bank, ‘I’m not here, I don’t want to talk to them,’ it’s about re-engaging.”

Leeson, who has overcome cancer, amassed losses of $1.4bn as Barings Plc’s former head trader in Singapore in 1995.

The London-based bank collapsed and its assets were sold to ING Groep NV (INGA) of the Netherlands for £1.

Barings, whose clients included Queen Elizabeth II, had financed Britain’s campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte from 1804 to 1815.