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Partnoy: Still Dodging Bullets

When Frank Partnoy published F.I.A.S.C.O.: Blood in the Water on Wall Street, featuring his recollections of dubious derivatives trading practices at Morgan Stanley and elsewhere, he knew he was stirring a hornet's nest. Reaction from his former employer was swift. Before the book was published, Morgan Stanley issued a press release charging the book was filled with "inaccuracies and sensationalism.”

"That ensured the book would be a success,” says Partnoy, who is now a professor at the University of San Diego Law School. "I might be in the ‘Where is he now?' file apart from that press release.” Five months after publication, in fact, it appears Partnoy has turned Morgan's retaliatory response to his advantage.

He says his phone has been ringing off the hook with people calling with tales of derivatives derring-do gone awry. "Half the calls I get are from end-users who lost money and want to talk about it, and currently are not in litigation,” he says, "and a quarter are from end-users who are involved in litigation, and are either interested in getting my advice or talking to me about consulting.”

The rest, he says, have been an odd mix. One caller was livid that he was not credited in the book with inventing a portion of the craps game Partnoy says he created on the trading floor. Partnoy even showed up on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show, talking about the derivatives biz to the Soldier of Fortune crowd. One caller from the Save G. Gordon Liddy campaign revealed that derivatives were a crucial component of the battle to get a reprieve for Liddy. How so? "To say it's a logical disconnect is to be too charitable,” says Partnoy.

Briefly

  • Jeffrey Hennion has been promoted to assistant treasurer at Alcoa. He previously served as senior treasury analyst in Alcoa's Lausanne, Switzerland, office.
  • Susan Ervin has left her position as deputy director and chief counsel in the trading and markets division of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to become counsel in the Washington office of Dechert, Price and Rhoads, an international law firm.
  • FNX has tapped Brian Colgan to fill its new position of director of application development. Colgan had served as vice president of Devon 3.34 development at SunGard Capital Markets.
  • The Chicago Board Options Exchange promoted Arthur Reinstein from senior attorney to assistant counsel, and Larry Pfaffenbach from director of systems planning to vice president of systems planning. It has also named Tully Davia vice president of institutional and international marketing, and Kathy Kranz vice president of retail marketing.
  • Anette Kolenda has been named senior vice president of account relations at OptiMark Technologies. She had served as general manager of banking, finance and securities for North America at IBM.
  • The Board of Trade Clearing Corp. promoted Michael Pontarelli from director of financial surveillance to vice president of risk management.

Please fax information on job changes to: 212-366-0551


Rogue Trader: The Movie

If you want to make money in the derivatives business, here's some advice: Blow up a really big bank and wait for cash from the book and movie rights to flow into your bank account while you do your hard time in the slammer.

That, anyway, is how Nick Leeson is doing it.

"Rogue Trader,” Leeson's epic story of class struggle, criminal deception, world travel and family values, is scheduled to hit the silver screen later this year—and has attracted blue chip movie talent. It is being produced by BBC legend Sir David Frost, Claire Chapman and Granada Films for some $15 million—evidently enough money to pull off an ace recreation of the SIMEX. James Dearden, best known for writing the screenplay for another family values film, "Fatal Attraction,” is directing the picture. Ewan McGregor, star of "Trainspotting,” "A Life Less Ordinary” and the next installment of the "Star Wars” series, plays Leeson. British soap opera star Anna Friel plays Leeson's loyal wife, Lisa.

The early buzz on "Rogue Trader” is that it portrays the stereotypically blue-blooded Barings executives unflatteringly, while glamorizing Leeson. "I don't think [that] because I'm in it, it's necessarily glamorous,” McGregor told the Los Angeles Times. "The film is based on his book, which is bound to glamorize him. You could choose not to make a film based on his book, but that would be a different kind of film.”

Frost is even more reverential. "I don't think he's a particularly bad person,” he told the London Daily Telegraph, "he's Everyman. We are all Nick Leeson. We want to succeed and we fear being discovered as not as good as we present ourselves. We all secretly have doubts about our ability, so I can understand someone in over his head digging himself into a deeper hole.”

Frost reportedly received several phone calls from influential London bankers trying to dissuade him from making the film, but that only strengthened his resolve. Barings, he says, "hung [Leeson] out to dry. I have no doubt that if his name was [the more upper-class-sounding] Nick Fotheringay-Leeson, he wouldn't be serving time now.”

Maybe. But hopefully the main lesson from the film will be that greed isn't always so good.

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