Posted on Sunday 7 April 2013 by Ulster Business

GDP pic

Nick Leeson (right) with his new colleagues at GDP Conor Devine (left) and James Gibbons (centre).

The original rogue trader, Nick Leeson, whose unchecked risk-taking caused the collapse of Barings Bank, has joined a Belfast-based firm which specialises in mediation between struggling borrowers and their banks.

Leeson is to become a Principal in the new Dublin office of GDP Partnership, a team of property, accountancy and banking professionals led by business partners Conor Devine and James Gibbons which aims to help clients avoid insolvency.

Former derivatives trader Leeson shot to fame in 1995 for his role in the collapse of Barings Bank – on of the oldest finance houses in England and personal bank to HM the Queen. He racked up losses of more than £800m after a series of risky trades went wrong in what was one of the biggest financial scandals of the 20th century.

After 13 years on the speaking circuit since being released from a Singapore jail, GDP said the its new recruit would be instrumental in offering the debt mediation service in Dublin which has helped numerous borrowers in Northern Ireland reach successful settlements by engaging with their banks.

The firm said Leeson's "experience and background will add significant value to what we are trying to achieve on behalf of our clients".

Having lived in Ireland for over ten years Leeson has witnessed the boom and subsequent gloom that has engulfed the country and GDP said that with banks de-leveraging and shrinking in size there is little opportunity for any form of economic growth, until the current problems are dealt with.

"I've faced into a number of difficult situations in the past and ultimately seen them turn for the better. It is often difficult to see the solution but rest assured there is always one available. With the help of GDP you can take back control of your financial situation," said Leeson.

The debt consultancy, which doesn't operate on behalf of institutions, said it is looking to engage with those asset backed borrowers who find themselves struggling to see a clear path to their financial regeneration.

Conor Devine, a chartered surveyor and principal of GDP believes that the tide is starting to turn within the mind-sets of the banks.

He said: "We have seen a shift in the attitudes of some of the banks in the North in the past 12 months and we are engaged with them all on behalf of clients to try and arrive at a solution to this chronic debt problem. The bottom line on all of this is that debt is an affordability issue, and we try and present to the bank proposals that reflect the best possible outcome for both bank and borrower.

"Thankfully we are now making significant progress, all be it, the process is quite slow and frustrating at times. The banks now recognise that in many occasions their net return will be greatly reduced by appointing a fixed charge receiver to the assets. The alternative option which can be delivered through intense mediation with the borrower through our practice, can increase the return to the institution," he added.

"The question I would put to any one is this, both governments and banks have all restructured their debts in the last few years, so why is it unreasonable for a borrower to do the same? The answer is its not, however there is a process you have to enter into and that's what we do through our practice."



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