David Enrich on one of the biggest banking scandals ever

David Enrich, the author of The Spider Network, talks about his account of one of the biggest banking scandals ever

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...the characters range from socially awkward nerds to coke-snorting party animals. And the more you get to know them, the less they adhere to their stereotypes...

The Spider Network is filled with inside-the-room conversations and anecdotes. How do you know all of this stuff?

In researching and writing this book, I relied on three main types of sources. First, I interviewed dozens of the people involved in the scandal and the authorities who eventually pursued them. Second, I was given exclusive access to an entire hard drive’s worth of evidence that regulators had collected in their investigations of Libor manipulation: internal bank emails, chat sessions, phone recordings, trading records, instant messages, and so on. There were tens of thousands of these, and a lot of them provided contemporaneous accounts of what traders and brokers were thinking, feeling and doing in their personal as well as professional lives. Third, and most important, I developed a years-long relationship with Tom Hayes, the scandal’s alleged ringleader. Eventually I got to know his wife and other family members, too. And they opened up to me in an extraordinarily candid, comprehensive fashion.

You got to know the scandal’s ringleader? How did that happen?

Back in 2013, I wrote a series of stories about Hayes and his ilk for the Wall Street Journal. One of Hayes’s former classmates put me in touch with him, and over many months I gradually convinced him to open up. By the climax of this story, in 2015, I was talking, emailing, exchanging text messages or drinking with Hayes and his wife multiple times a day. I got to know both of them better than I knew some of my own friends.

Do you still keep in touch with him and his family?

Yes, I do. I wrote this book while living in London, but moved to New York in 2016. The Hayes family still lives in England. I keep in touch with them regularly. As for how they’re doing, the answer is: not very well. You’ll have to read the book to find out why.

Will we be able to understand The Spider Network even if we don’t know anything about finance?

I hope so! I’ve tried to write it in a way that is accessible to just about anyone who likes a good tale. Don’t be intimidated by the subject matter: The banking industry does a really good job of making itself seem more complicated than it really is. (It’s a convenient way to keep peddling mediocre products to clients and to justify sky-high profits and bonuses.) The reality is that much of finance, when boiled down to its essence, is pretty intuitive, and one of my goals with this book is to demystify things for laypeople.

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