Morning Coffee: Sorry end for talented trader whose pay deal was the envy of the industry. Goldman's interesting new habit
There's unlikely to be a trader anywhere who hasn't heard of Christian Bittar. He, after all, is the ex-Deutsche Bank trader who made £90m ($117m) aged 38 in 2008 thanks to a famously generous 'percentage deal' with Deutsche Bank whereby he got a share of his profits. Yesterday, it all came to an ignominious end: to the distress of his "inconsolable" wife, Bittar was sentenced to five years and four months in prison for conspiring to rig interest rate benchmarks. Judge Michael Gledhill said he'd contemplated issuing a prison sentence of 10 years, but had relented due to the toll the case had already taken on Bittar's life.
Bittar's ability as a trader was highlighted by the judge. So too was his curious disinterest in the money itself. Bittar was a trader of "calibre", said Gledhill. - When fellow conspirator Philippe Moryoussef tried to copy Bittar's approach and demand a similar pay deal, he made far less for himself or for the bank. And while Moryoussef was deemed to be motivated by greed, Bittar - whom Bloomberg previously described as living in a "relatively modest London house" and driving a non-flashy car - was deemed to be motivated mostly by the game. "The reason for your offending came at least in part from the satisfaction of being able to beat the system by manipulation," suggested the judge - even though Bittar reportedly lobbied for higher pay at Deutsche Bank and threatened to leave for a hedge fund if it wasn't forthcoming.
If true, Bittar's lack of interest in money should now act in his favour. Now of no fixed address, he lost €40m in unrestricted stock when he was fired from Deutsche Bank and yesterday was ordered to pay fines and costs totaling £3.3m ($4.3m) alongside his prison sentence.
Bittar's fellow conspirators, alleged and otherwise, fared better. Moryoussef was sentenced to eight years in prison but is hiding out in France and planning to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights after claiming outside the court that, "What I was doing was legitimate, legal and had been done throughout the banking industry for over two decades.” He didn't turn up for the trial and was sentenced in absentia.
The court was unable to reach a verdict on three other defendants, Colin Bermingham, Carlo Palombo, and Sisse Bohart, who will be retried in January. The process is already taking its toll: Palombo, who has moved on from banking and is now a teaching assistant at the University of California, came to London for the trial and will now need to come back again next year. In July he raged on Facebook against, "morally worthless corporate lawyers, prosecutors and public officials who play the game in hope this will help their career.
"To all of them: enjoy your successful life and your social status, and be as unhappy as you can possibly be," he added.
Separately, if you're a senior person and you want to work for Goldman Sachs, this may be your opportunity to do so. The Wall Street Journal notes that Goldman has hired 15 partners externally over the last year, where in the past it hired almost none. Not everyone wants to be a Goldman partner though - the firm reportedly had a "handshake deal" to hire Bill Graham, a utilities banker at Morgan Stanley last spring but Graham changed his mind.
David Solomon is expected to load Goldman Sachs' management committee with women. (Business Insider)
Goldman Sachs thinks equity research content will help it overcome MiFID II. (The TradeNews)
Goldman Sachs poached David Wernert, an equity derivatives trader from Barclays. (Business Insider)
Eric Schlanger ex-head of equities at Barclays in America is setting up a hedge fund: “Working for a large institution means you end up working on problems that you weren’t necessarily put on this earth to solve and may not affect the bottom line. I’m a trader and I want to make money, so being in a number of bureaucratic meetings is not necessarily why I came to Wall Street in the first place.” (Financial News)
A retired GP ordered the contract killing of his Edinburgh-based financial adviser on the dark web as part of a “five-year vendetta” because he blamed the banker for losing £300k from his pension. (The Scotsman)
There's been a sharp rise in deaths caused by alcohol-related liver disease since the financial crisis. (New Scientist)
Concorde's trying to make a comeback. (WSJ)
Cloned UBS economist has no worries for his job: "I can perhaps have more empathy and feeling for the client”. We drink coffee together, I do not have to press a touch pad for a response. We talk about a broad range of subjects — including Brexit.... This clone can’t do the job I do at the moment, but it is just the beginning." (Financial Times)
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