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UK/World economic crisis - interview

Sex, drugs, drink and greed in the City of London

Article published on the 2009-04-17 Latest update 2009-04-19 07:45 TU

The Swiss Re building, also known as the Gherkin, in the City of London(Photo: Tony Cross)

The Swiss Re building, also known as the Gherkin, in the City of London
(Photo: Tony Cross)

A former City of London financial analyst has exposed the "greed, arrogance, insider-trading" of his former colleagues - not to mention the drink, drugs and visits to strip clubs.And City Boy author Geraint Anderson blames bankers' greed for the current economic crisis.

Confession of a City boy: Author Geraint Anderson

17/04/2009 by Murielle Paradon

Geraint Anderson is in no doubt as to who is to blame for the world’s current economic woes.

“The crisis that has occurred, that is going affect millions of lives across the world, was a crisis created by bankers,” he says. “And those bankers did what they did was because they were greedy, ruthless people, who wanted to increase their bonus even if it meant bad long-term consequences for us all.”

So it is a little surprising to learn that Anderson worked at a hub of international banking, the City of London for 12 years.

Police clash with protesters in the City of London during April's G20 summit(Photo: Reuters)

Police clash with protesters in the City of London during April's G20 summit
(Photo: Reuters)

The former financial analyst describes himself as “just a left-wing hippy who fell into the job by mistake”. In fact, he is the son of Labour politician Donald Anderson, now Baron Anderson of Swansea, so perhaps not as hippy as all that.

In any case, he has now left the Square Mile behind him and published a book, City Boy, which describes his experience there in less than favourable terms.

“It’s a Wild West casino or at least it became that,” he told RFI’s Murielle Paradon. “It’s a bunch of mainly white young men making as much as quickly as money as possible. It’s quite a tight club, a close club and it’s about doing what is necessary to get rich as possible as quickly as possible, with not too many rules preventing you doing that.”

Anderson believes that financial deregulation introduced by both Conservative and Labour government in Britain encouraged City excesses.

“People have the propensity to be greedy. The City attracts very intelligent people because the rewards are so high. And those people are going to find out how to abuse the bonus system.

He says that banking bosses knew the good times could not last forever and encouraged, “My colleagues and I were told many times that this casino was going to close down soon, there was going to be some kind of crisis and so the logical way to behave again was to make money as much as we could.”

Like many of his colleagues, Anderson, who expected to work in the City for just five years, found himself addicted to making money.

“In fact I felt like a bankrobber. I promised myself  I’d do it five years. I ended up doing 12. There were many people who promised themselves they’d do five years and they’re still doing it 30 years later, with two divorces, a big mortgage and school fees.”

“Excess was the order of the day,” he continues. “My last two bonuses were half a million pounds. I still don’t know why they paid me that, I can’t work it out!”

And there was heavy drinking, drugs and sex.

“Drugs obviously go hand in hand with the rich young men who like alcohol like the buzz  of the trading floor … The strip joints were absolutely full of City boys and I took people out on nights that cost several thousands pounds.”

Writing an anonymous column in a London newspaper was Anderson’s escape route. It gave him the chance to expose “the greed, the short-termism, the arrogance, the conspicuous consumption, the insider-trading, spreading false rumours, avoiding tax”.

Now, after the bingeing, comes the hangover.

“The City itself is obviously a not much fun place to be at the moment. All my ex-colleagues, who I speak to, they’re either worried about losing their jobs, they’ ve lost their jobs, their bonuses are down  60 per cent this year on average.

“There’s got to be tighter regulation, becuase the politicians are listening to the voters, hopefully, and the voters will not stand for another crisis created by bankers.

"There’ll be tighter regulation, the bonus system, I think, will change quite dramatically, and banks will have greater controls placed on them, because otherwise, we’ll just have another credit crunch type of event, another financial crisis in the next ten years and  10 years and there’ll be blood on the streets this time.”

And does he feel personally responsible?

“I do feel some guilt. I’m used to say I did 12 years sinning, I need 12 years of redemption.” That means writing and charity work, raising money to build a school in Kenya, “and, hopefully, if that works, then we’ll do more things.”

Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile is published by Headline Publishing in Britain at £17.99.

Cityboy: confessions explosives d’un trader reprenti is published by Balland in France at € 22.90.