The corridors of power…

It now looks like the phenomenon is spilling over into the world of finance.

First comes Enron, then a church-going banker from Baltimore is left protesting his innocence after $700m disappears.

But John Rusnak is not the first to be accused of ‘going postal’ with someone else’s money. You may recall Joseph Jett, bond dealer with the Wall Street firm Kidder, Peabody, who was accused, in 1994, of running up trading losses of $350m.

Jett earned $9m in a single year on the back of his supposed success as a trader and was named Kidder’s man of the year. He later claimed that he had been made a scapegoat by the firm.

Jett has long protested his innocence. He was found guilty of book-keeping irregularities but cleared of a more serious charge of securities fraud.

The FBI is currently hunting Frank Gruttadauria, a stockbroker with Lehman Brothers in Cleveland, Ohio. He vanished a month ago and is accused of stealing up to $300m from clients. He even sent a letter to the authorities admitting: ‘I can hardly believe I could have done this without detection for so long.’

Impressive. But my favourite is Martin Frankel, the nerdish recluse from Connecticut who went on the run in 1999 accused of defrauding insurance companies of $200m. Firemen responding to an alarm at his deserted mansion found half-burnt documents including a series of ‘things to do’ memos to himself starting with: ‘Launder money’.

Astrological charts were found, giving answers to questions such as: ‘Will I go to prison? Should I leave?’ and ‘Will I be safe?’. Frankel is awaiting trial on fraud and racketeering charges. He denies wrongdoing.

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