A former trainee banker claims he can finally return to the UK nearly two decades after he was forced to flee - because he looked like rogue trader Nick Leeson

Gutted Steve Hall, 53, was repeatedly mistaken for Leeson in 1995 after the convicted fraudster brought down Barings Bank - with losses of £827million.

Then-banker Steve, from Croydon, said he struggled to get work in the City in the late '90s as he was told "someone who looked like the rogue trader would be bad for business".

He was berated in the street - with people blaming him for losing their jobs or pensions - and appeared in the press due to his uncanny resemblance.

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Steve was even attacked by a group of five stockbrokers in a pub in London.

He said he eventually realised he couldn't get a job in the money markets because of his likeness to the infamous banker, and fled to Jakarta in Indonesia for a fresh start.

Steve, who studied at the London School of Economics, got married, had three kids, and worked in business, is now currently having interviews for jobs back in the UK.

He said: "It was pretty bad to be honest. I was upset by it all because, in a way, I became another victim of Leeson's crime.

"To a lot of people, it might all seem harmless and innocuous enough. But you have to understand that Leeson was infamous - he was hated at the time.

"I would be stopped on the street by complete strangers, they'd grab me by the arm and say I'd caused a lot of heartache or lots of job losses.

"Others would think the whole thing was just funny, and say that I'd reminded them of someone in that sarcastic way people do.

"I spent around four years applying for work as a broke in the City - and failing.

"One employer told me that someone who looked like the 'rogue trader' would be bad for business, and that I didn't stand much chance.''

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Leeson worked for Barings Bank between 1989 and 1995, trading speculatively in Singapore and hiding his losses in 'error accounts'.

He memorably left a note reading "I'm sorry" as losses reached £827m - twice the twice the bank's available trading capital.

Leeson fled Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand, and eventually Germany, when he arrested in Frankfurt and extradited back to Singapore in November 1995.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of "deceiving the bank's auditors and of cheating the Singapore exchange" and was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in Singapore.

Steve said his likeness saw him physically attacked by stockbrokers in a pub.

He said: "The worst moment was when I was attacked.

"I was with a friend at a pub called The Stage Door in Victoria, in 1997, when a group of five brokers spotted me and came over.

"They'd been drinking, they were abrasive, picking on me, and pushing me about.

"When I then pushed one back, another hit me several times.

"They didn't expect me to be able to defend myself, though.

"My grandfather taught me how to box, so I didn't do too much to hurt them - I'm not a violent person, but I won't be pushed around when it hits the fan.''

During his dark days of failing to get a job because of his looks, Steve appeared in his local newspaper discussing his problems.

That bizarrely led to him being inundated with film, TV, and commercial offers, he said and he even modelled for The Sun in 2000.

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Nick Leeson

It led to various TV appearances and bit parts in films such as Russell Crowe's Proof of Life and Peter O'Toole in The Final Curtain.

Steve said: ''The media got a whiff of it and I featured in a Croydon Advertiser story.

"I was then contacted by London Tonight, who asked if I would be prepared to chat about what it's like looking like Leeson.

"There were some ups during that time, though. A friend of mine, an actor, put me in touch with a PR company and I got some TV and film roles.

"I was in a film with Russell Crowe, and even met my favourite actor - Peter O'Toole.

"There was also a brief stint when I did commercials. Generally, though, it was a crap experience looking like a convict."

Growing tired of the setbacks in his real passion - finance - he grew a beard and fled to Indonesia using a secret contact in 2002.

Even out there, however, he said he was mistaken for "Leeson with a beard" - but less often.

Brewery worker Steve married now-wife Virly in 2005, and had three children, Farand, 16, Jack, three, and Geneva, two.

Now, Steve is looking to move back to the UK to spend more time with his parents, find a job in the City, and bring his family over with him.

He is currently having job interviews and said he'll move back as soon as he gets a job.

He said: "I think there's been a sufficient amount of time since, so that no one will really mistake me for Leeson anymore.

"I can't wait to bring my wife and children over with me. I've said so much about London to them, I think they will love it."

Steve hinted that he'll have another go at TV and film if he can't find work in finance.

Leeson was released in 1999 after being diagnosed with colon cancer - which he survived.

Barings was declared insolvent after a failed bailout in February 1995.

Leeson went on to become the CEO of Galway United FC, and feature on Celebrity Apprentice Ireland and Celebrity Big Brother.