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Reformed rogues: 11 remarkable U-turns

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Jordan Belfort is perhaps the most famous of them after Martin Scorsese immortalized the former stock market swindler in "The Wolf of Wall Street". But Belfort is far from the only rogue trader converted to a straight-and-narrow (although generally less lucrative) lifestyle. CNBC takes a look at the remarkable turnaround made by some of the most high profile people at the heart of recent financial scandals.

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle

Posted on October 30, 2015.

Nick Leeson

Losses accumulated: $1.3 billion Perhaps the most famous rogue trader of all time. In 1987, Leeson led England's 233-year old Barings bank into bankruptcy with failed bets on Nikkei futures. The $1.3 billion of liabilities he had run up was more than the entire capital and reserves of the bank. Eventually arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, Nick spent a few fraught months trying to escape extradition to Singapore. He failed and in December 1995 a court in Singapore sentenced him to six-and- a-half y
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The man whose $1.3 billion losses, concealed in an error account, brought down the venerable Barings Bank, has had an almost more extraordinary life since his release from a Singapore jail.

He recovered from colon cancer and published a book about his experiences which became Rogue Trader, a film starring Ewan McGregor as Leeson. Then, Leeson moved to the West of Ireland where he became manager of Galway United Football Club in 2007. He is now a motivational speaker and has published a second book: Back from the Brink: Coping with Stress.

Jerome Kerviel

Losses accumulated: $6 billion A 33-year-old French compliance worker-turned-rogue trader, who has been charged with losing Societe General 4.9 billion euros ($6 billion) in 2008 due to unauthorized trades. Societe Generale officials claim that throughout 2007, Kerviel had been trading profitably. But then he exceeded his authority to engage in unauthorized trades. Kerviel “breached five levels of controls” in the bank, and was “a computer genius,” according to Christian Noyer, the governor of t
Photo: THOMAS COEX | AFP | Getty Images

The trader who lost Societe Generale nearly 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) through trading derivatives and was convicted of breach of trust, forgery and entering false data, served just 150 days of a five-year prison sentence, before being released wearing an electronic bracelet to work at Lemaire Consultants et Associes as a consultant.

Before going to prison, Kerviel made a high profile visit to the Vatican to meet the pope, and then embarked on a pilgrimage from Rome to Paris to raise awareness of the "tyranny of the markets."

John Rusnak

Losses accumulated: $691 million Former currency trader at Allfirst bank, part of Allied Irish, Rusnak's failed bets on the yen snowballed into $691 million worth of losses. Rusnak was so bullish on the yen that he neglected to hedge his forward contracts. When his unhedged positions faced losses, Rusnak panicked and entered false options into the system that made it look like his positions were hedged. When the bank demanded that Rusnak release some of the capital to ease its balance sheet, his
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The former currency trader served five and a half years in jail for bank fraud, after concealing losses of nearly $691 million at Allfirst Financial (then owned by Allied Irish Bank). The losses, incurred by bad bets on the Japanese yen, were discovered in 2002.

After leaving prison, Rusnak became president of Pilgrimage Development, a Baltimore-based dry cleaning company. Rusnak, a committed Christian, is currently executive director at UnCuffed, a non-profit which works to prevent re-offending among young convicts.


Yasuo Hamanaka

Losses accumulated: $1.8 billion - $5 billion Hamanaka lead Sumitomo's metal trading division, which controlled about 5 percent of the world's copper supply. Also known as "Mr. Copper", he used this influence to manipulate the market via the London Metal Exchange (LME), which sets the price of copper around the world. He kept the price of copper artificially high for nearly an entire decade leading up to 1995 and earned huge profits. When Hamanaka was removed from his role by suspicious regulato
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The man once known as "Mr Copper", who supposedly tried to conquer the entire global market in the commodity during his reign as chief copper trader at Japan's Sumitomo Corporation, was released from prison in 2005, after serving seven years inside. He is credited with artificially inflating copper prices on the London Metals Exchange for close to a decade.

Since his release, Hamanaka appears to have been living quietly in Tokyo. A LinkedIn profile bearing his name, with the same dates and place he attended university, states that he is president of a small metals and mining company called Globros Corporation, but the company could not be contacted by CNBC.


Sam Antar

Maybe the ultimate poacher turned gamekeeper, the former chief financial officer at the notorious electronics retailer Crazy Eddie and convicted felon, now catches out white collar crooks and teaches others how to do the same.

Antar's cousin, the eponymous Eddie (not, for the record, the man featured in the stores' well-known advertisements), set up Crazy Eddie's in 1969, although it was not until the preparation for the company to go public in 1984 that the large-scale fraud and manipulation set in. Sam Antar eventually became the prosecution's star witness in return for a suspended sentence.


Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort
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The man immortalized as the "Wolf of Wall Street" in Martin Scorsese's 2013 film has managed a second career as an author and motivational speaker, after the spectacular implosion of his first in a notorious boiler room scam.

He ended up serving 22 months in prison and claims to be still in the process of repaying the victims of his scam, which involved a so-called "pump and dump" scheme, where shares are artificially inflated to encourage investors to buy in, before the people behind the scam sell them off, sending the price plummeting. However, his victims and law enforcement told a CNBC investigation this year Belfort is not paying back what he owes.

CNBC's American Greed report on Belfort can be viewed here.

Ernie Saunders

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As one of the group who became known as the Guinness Four after illegally supporting Guinness shares during its takeover of Distillers, Saunders gained international notoriety.

His sentence was reduced after the judge found that he had pre-senile dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease, and could not name the U.S. president or recite three numbers backwards.

Saunders was released in 1991 after serving just ten months in prison and has defied his diagnosis to play a key role in the early days of U.K. phone giant Carphone Warehouse.


Kweku Adoboli

Kweku Adoboli, right, is escorted to a prison van as he leaves the City of London magistrates court in 2011
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He was known as the "go-to guy" on UBS's London trading floor, according to an FT article, before crashing down to earth with a prison sentence after losing the Swiss bank £2.3 billion.

Since leaving prison earlier this year, he has been assisting Paul Whittaker, a former head of compliance training at HSBC, training traders in compliance issues, although he has been banned from working in the U.K. financial services sector again.

Adoboli, who has lived in the U.K. for most of his life, is also facing extradition to Ghana, the country of his birth.

- Kweku Adoboli, right, is escorted to a prison van in 2011.

Toshihide Iguchi

Toshihide Iguchi, former trader at Daiwa Bank Ltd., in an interview in Hong Kong
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The Japanese trader, who hid $1.1 billion worth of losses while working for Daiwa Bank in the 1980s, told CNBC last year "any trader can be a rogue trader if you are in the wrong place."

Read MoreI'm not a criminal: Daiwa rogue trader who lost $1 billion

He served four years in prison for his role in hiding trading losses by selling bonds in sub-custody accounts – an estimated 30,000 trading slips in total. Iguchi now works in foreign language education – and has written a book My Billion Dollar Education: Inside the Mind of a Rogue Trader.

Bruno Iksil

Pedestrians walk in front of the JPMorgan Chase headquarters building in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

The trader they called the London Whale was blamed for a whopping $6.2 billion trading loss on complicated derivatives contracts at investment bank J.P. Morgan in 2012. He is still co-operating with U.S. authorities over the incident, but regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have said he will not face criminal or civil charges.

Two of his colleagues, Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout, may still face charges in the U.S., but with both men in their native Spain and France respectively, and no apparent will from authorities in those countries to extradite them, it looks more and more likely no-one will be charged in relation to this particular behemoth of a loss.


Asil Nadir

Asil Nadir, centre, leaving the Central Criminal Court in London in 2010
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The founder of the Polly Peck empire, who famously received a watch from a U.K. Conservative minister inscribed "Don't let the buggers grind you down" as his fraudulent business imploded, spent close to two decades in northern Cyprus after leaving the U.K. ahead of his trial for theft from the company he founded.

While in northern Cyprus, which is not recognized by the U.K. (and therefore would not extradite him), Nadir ran a local media company and got involved in local politics. However, he has since returned to the U.K. to face trial and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, which he has tried to move to serve in Turkey.


- Asil Nadir, center, leaving the Central Criminal Court in London in 2010