Rogue Trader Talks Financial Crisis at IT Security Event

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Who better to speak on the importance of data management and security than Nick Leeson say organisers of RSA Conference Europe

In light of the institutionalised greed and mismanagement endemic to some of the world’s leading financial institutions exposed by the banking crisis, the market havoc wreaked by Nick Leeson in the 1990s has lost some of its shock value but IT security show RSA Conference Europe is still hoping the one-time rogue trader will be a big draw for its annual event in London this Autumn.

In a statement released today, the organisers of the security show, whose stateside counterpart regularly attracts the Who’s Who of tech leadership such as Bill Gates plus the likes of Al Gore, confirmed that Leeson will provide the closing remarks for the three day security event held near Paddington Station.

“In the aftermath of the AIB trading scandal in New York, the collapse of Enron and Worldcom and most recently the failure of many international banks as a result of the global economic crisis, Nick will provide fascinating insights into the continuing failures of senior and middle management at large corporations who still fail to protect shareholders and customers,” the organisers said.

Leeson famously brought down Barings Bank in 1995 after a series of unauthorised and risky trades accumulated to losses of £827 million – twice the bank’s trading capital. After briefly fleeing to Thailand and Germany, he was eventually arrested and sentenced to six years in a Singapore jail.

Like other one-time fraudsters, such as Frank Abagnale – who spoke at RSA Europe 2007 – and whose life-story was turned into the Holllywood film Catch Me If You Can starring Leonardo De Capiro, Leeson now earns a crust from the lucrative speaking circuit.


“Rogue trading is probably a daily occurrence amongst the financial markets. Not enough focus goes on those risk management areas, those compliance areas, those settlement areas, that can ultimately save them money,” Leeson states on his website.

According to Linda Lynch, RSA Conference Europe manager, Leeson is a good choice of speaker given recent events in the banking industry and helps to highlight the importance of IT governance and security given the increasing complexity of financial instruments. “The recent banking crisis was caused in part by a poor approach to information management and security,” she said. “No one is better positioned to provide perspective on those incidents than a man who was literally at the centre of one of the single biggest banking fraud incidents in the history of the UK.”

Aside from Leeson, the RSA Conference will draw inspiration from another divisive character – Edgar Allan Poe. Each year, the RSA event focuses on a different personality with some ties to information security such as World War II cryptographer and computing pioneer Alan Turing at last year’s event.

As well as conjuring up horror stories, Poe was fascinated by cryptography which he included in his fiction such as the short story – “The Gold Bug” – which is based around the solution of a cipher, which turns out to be a map to hidden treasure.

The Conference takes place from 20th -22nd October 2009, at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel and is open for registration now.