Monday 18 December 2017

VIDEO: BBC insists City trader 'dreaming of recession' not a hoaxer

Jonathan Russell in London

He's become the face of the global debt crisis and an internet sensation. The self-styled city trader who stripped away the jargon and bluster of the financial world and summed up our woes in just three minutes. "I go to bed every night dreaming of another recession," Alessio Rastani explained in a BBC interview. "It's an opportunity."

The sound bites won Mr Rastani instant fame. He became a viral hit and was trending on Twitter. BBC business editor Robert Peston was among the fans. "A must watch if you want to understand the euro crisis and how markets work," he told his army of 82,000 followers on Twitter yesterday.

Twitter was lit up yesterday with claims that Mr Rastani might have been a member of the Yes Men, a band of "identity correction" artists who pass themselves off as the corporations you love to hate.

But there is no evidence that such was the case.

The interview contained such gems as "Governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world (and) Goldman Sachs does not care about the rescue package."

But last night the BBC was left facing questions about just how qualified Mr Rastani is to speak about the markets.

In the interview Mr Rastani described himself as an independent trader. Elsewhere he claims he's an "investment speaker".

Instead of operating from a plush office in Canary Wharf, Mr Rastani works and lives with his partner Anita Eader in a £200,000 (€230,000) semi in Bexleyheath, south London. The house, complete with a mortgage from Royal Bank of Scotland, belongs to her not him.

He is a business owner, a 99pc shareholder in a public speaking venture Santoro Projects. Its most recent accounts show cash in the bank of £985 (€1,113). After four years trading net assets are £10,048 (€11,537) -- in the red.

How a man who has never been authorised by the Financial Services Authority and has no discernible history working for a city institution ended up being interviewed by the BBC remains a mystery.

The incongruity led to some commentators speculating Mr Rastani was a professional hoaxer.

The BBC denied the allegation yesterday: "We've carried out detailed investigations and can't find any evidence to suggest that the interview with Alessio Rastani was a hoax."


However, the BBC declined to comment on what checks, if any, it had done prior to the interview. Mr Rastani was a little more forthcoming.

"They approached me," he said last night. "I'm an attention seeker. That is the main reason I speak. That is the reason I agreed to go on the BBC. Trading is a like a hobby. It is not a business. I am a talker. I talk a lot. I love the whole idea of public speaking."

So he's more of a talker than a trader. A man who doesn't own the house he lives in, but can sum up the financial crisis in just three minutes -- a knack that escapes many financial commentators.

After Twitter speculation that he was a member of hoaxers The Yes Men, the BBC press office made enquiries and concluded: "He is an independent market trader and one of a range of voices we've had on air to talk about the recession." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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