WHAT DID THE PRESIDENT KNOW, AND WHEN DID HE know it? That famous line of inquiry from the Watergate prosecution that resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon bubbled up anew after Britain's venerable Barings Bank collapsed in February: What did senior bank officials know of the dealings of rogue trader Nick Leeson, and when did they know it? Answers to those questions would determine whether the bank, like Nixon, had been party to a cover-up.

In its report issued this July, the Bank of England sifted the evidence and basically concluded that the young Singapore-based futures trader had acted...

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