A SWISS commodity broker has confirmed it will take on Steve Perkins, the oil trader banned for illegally trading $520m (£340m) in a drunken blackout, calling him a “good man who did a stupid thing.”
Starsupply Renewables SA hired Mr Perkins to work in Geneva just two days after the UK regulator sais he must not trade for five years.
Mr Perkins, a 34-year-old broker from Essex, cornered 69pc of the global oil market in the middle of the night in June last year, costing his former employer, PVM Oil Futures, $10m in losses.
He claims to have bought the 7m barrels of oil during an alcohol-induced stupor following a golfing weekend of heavy drinking.
At the time of the incident, global markets were baffled by the spike in the oil price in the middle of the night. Prices leapt by more than $1.50 a barrel in under half an hour at around 2 am – the kind of sharp swing caused by events of geopolitical significance.
The Daily Telegraph revealed this week that Mr Perkins had flown to Switzerland for talks about resuing his careers at a new brokerage.
Starsupply said yesterday that it would “voluntarily” uphold the FSA’s judgement and restrict Mr Perkins from engaging in any regulated market activity for the duration of the ban.
The broker will join the company despite the FSA’s warning that “Mr Perkins poses an extreme risk to the market when drunk.”
A spokesman for Starsupply said Mr Perkins hat attended an alcohol rehabilitation program and has been sober for almost a year, saying “it is important that this continues”.
He added that the company has been in negotiations with the broker for some considerable time.
“We believe Steven Perkins is a good man who did a stupid thing. The sanctions legitimately imposed on him by the FSA will be honoured. The damage caused by Mr Perkins’ actions over a year ago was substantial and we empathise with those affected.
“However, we believe in rehabilitation. We want to give Mr Perkins an opportunity to rebuild his careers in a different direction. Mr Perkins’ first task will be to assist with the writing of training materials for graduate recruits.”
The FSA noted that there appeared to have been 2no motive” for buying up the oil but strongly criticised Mr Perkins for trying to cover up his market abuse by lying about the trades in the morning.
The broker sent a text message claiming to be unwell and initially argued that the orders had been authorised by a regular client.
Starsuplly Renewables, which is the world’s biggest biofuels brokerage, has a code of conduct published on its website promising that its staff “reveal and report all information truthfully, without manipulation or misrepresentation”.
The fact that a foreign company is hiring Mr Perkins – despite the potential for negative publicity – shows how valuable top brokers are to commodity companies.
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Rowena Mason on Twitter @rowenamason