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The 11 Most Head-Scratching Things Bankers Did This Year

We all do and say dumb things, but when it happens on Wall Street, you’re bound to get a bit more exposure. From embarrassing arrests to a sleepy German banker, the last 12 months have provided a low-light reel of fodder that’s equal parts humor and tragedy. Surely we missed a few – add your favorites in the comments section below.

Tired of Making Mistakes

A tuckered-out German banker accidentally transferred $293 million across accounts after falling asleep with his finger on the number 2 key on his computer. He intended to transfer just €62. At least his finger wasn’t on the nine key.

Foot in Mouth Disease

Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones did more than stub his toe while speaking at an event in May. He told the crowd that you’ll never see as many great women investors or traders as men because being a mother is a career killer. “As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it,” he said. Inappropriate and offensive – nice touch.

Elevator Shafted

Jefferies chief executive Richard Handler was compensated fairly well in 2012, taking $58 million in salary and future incentives. But apparently money can’t buy you a 360-degree panoramic view of Manhattan – only a 352-degree view. He filed suit against the Department of Buildings to prevent the construction of a neighboring building’s elevator shaft. The public reception has been, well, less than positive. Handler later came out and said he sued on behalf of his neighbors. Way to take one for the team, Rich.

Never Mess with a Man Named Olivier

There are fits of rage, and then there’s this. The now former head of Asian FX trading at Barclays was a little miffed about the construction noise across the street while he was trying to get some R&R. Rather than asking the old fashioned way, Olivier Desbarres went on a profanity-laced tear that would make Richard Pryor blush. It ended with him threatening to put a worker’s phone in a very uncomfortable place. And he did it all wearing shorts, sandals and reading glasses. A real power move.

Desbarres was fired soon after the video became public. Here’s the link to the footage. Warning: the language is graphic.

Darn Auto-Correct

If you are going to commit a crime, logic tells you to hide the evidence. And under no circumstances should you mail any incriminating data directly to the authorities. Well, that’s exactly what Swiss financial advisor Beda Singenberger did.

Singenberger, who is accused of helping 60 people in the U.S. hide $184 million in secret offshore accounts, inadvertently emailed the names of clients and all the incriminating details to someone overseas, and it ended up on the desk of federal authorities. Singenberger’s mailing error was “the only reason” the U.S. has been able to charge and convict his clients.

Dater Rater

This is one for the ages. Yes, it happened more than a year ago, but does it ever get old? A 28-year-old investment banker employed the help of an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of his dates with women, all with numerical ratings for looks and other traits. Oh, and then there’s the personal comment section. One example: “OK girl, but very jappy. One and done for me.”

The spreadsheet, including this man and all the names of the women, went viral.

Stripped of His Freedom

A well-to-do financial advisor at Deutsche Bank was jailed after violating a court order by introducing his young daughter to his stripper girlfriends. Not sure why you need to violate a court order for that to be an issue.

Fifty Shades of Awkward

Manhattan investment banker Edward Sonderling has a penchant for fantasy. He and a girlfriend had a “Fifty Shades of Grey” moment that happened to end up on the cover of the New York Post after the relationship went south. He probably won’t use the photo for his LinkedIn profile.

Just Kidding!

UBS pulled off the rare triple-crown last fall. It laid off a host of New York employees the day after Hurricane Sandy. Across the pond, staffers were alerted they were let go after their ID cards didn’t work and they had no access to email. Then the cherry. UBS discovered it was overzealous with its firings and began hiring back once-fired employees. Wonder if they got to keep the severance packages.

Mo Money, Mo Probems

A 23-year-old self-proclaimed FX trading genius made headlines by dropping nearly $320,000 at a posh London nightclub last year. After doing interviews about his wunderkind rags-to-riches story, Alex Hope and his business partner were arrested for running an FX trading scheme. Give him credit for trying to stay low-profile.

Days of our Libor

You’d need a full article to run through the embarrassing comments traders uttered during the Libor rate-manipulation scandal. RBS may have accounted for the worst two. “It's just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money,” said one RBS trader in an email to a co-worker. “I'm like a whores drawers,” added another.

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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