High rollers in the City of London are there for one purpose only – to make money. They can be clever, unscrupulous, corrupt and greedy, but without that single, driving ambition they cannot survive, let alone succeed. Bad enough for a man wanting to flourish in the nest of vipers; hell for a woman. Sarah Jensen, one of the youngest and most highly paid foreign exchange traders in the City, knows all about survival. Her strange and tragic childhood has equipped her to deal with most situations; now her glamour provides the perfect camouflage in the lethally competitive environment in which she works.
When the Governor of the Bank of England and the Director of Counter-Narcotics Crime at MI6 decide to investigate corruption in a leading merchant bank, they identify Sarah as the ideal undercover agent, and they send her in to find out what she can about what she is led to believe is a case of insider trading. The trouble is that they don’t reveal to her their own secret agenda, and they have no idea that Sarah – when the killings begin – is more than capable of taking fate – and the law into her own hands.
One of the top foreign exchange traders in the City, she’s addicted to risk as a way of blotting out the pain of a childhood tragedy. For Sarah the assignment is impossible to resist. But as she gets close to the heart of a deadly international conspiracy, she is soon playing for the very highest stakes – her life. The action ranges from London to Rome, Frankfurt to Morocco before reaching a deadly climax back in England.
“The love of money is the root of all evil.” The ease of transferring vast sums of money around the globe using computer networks provides tempting opportunities for corruption, as described in this novel by my sister, Linda Davies.
Early in 1995 the scandal of the collapse of Barings Bank, caused by the rogue trader Nick Leeson, grabbed headlines all over the world. All scandals in the world of banking and finance provoke criticism of the regulators but it is often claimed in defence of the authorities that the actions of mavericks cannot be foreseen. This was disputed by Allan Fotheringham writing in the leading Canadian news and current affairs magazine Maclean’s. According to Fotheringham:
Linda Davies has proven a point made years ago by Marshall McLuhan, who said that artists can warn us of future disasters. Three years ago, Davies wrote the novel Nest of Vipers about a computer whiz-kid who decides to exploit the system and make tons of money while being employed as a mole by the Bank of England. She wrote what 28-year-old Nick Leeson accomplished in Singapore last week. Leeson has been able to upset world economies more than J. P. Morgan, the Vanderbilts, or the Rothschilds ever could.
The novel proved prophetic in another way, too. In it currency dealers in one bank make huge profits from advance inside information about discussions at meetings of central bankers and finance ministers of the G7 countries (the group of 7 leading industrialised countries – now the G8 since Russia was admitted). Since Nest of Vipers was published there have been a number of alleged cases involving central banks.
On 9 February 2005, in a response to a request under the freedom of information act for information about sterling’s expulsion from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday, September 16, 1992, the civil service inadvertently revealed that MI6 had provided the British government with secret information about impending French interest rate changes.
The former British agent, Richard Tomlinson, claimed in September 1998 that MI6 had a spy in the Bundesbank code-named Orcada, who provided inside information on Germany’s proposed interest rate movements.
The former president of the Brazilian central bank was arrested in April 1999 after he initially refusing to testify in a probe into allegations of insider trading on the foreign exchange market.
In October 1999 it was reported that the World Bank was investigating allegations that a former employee had passed on information about World Bank and IMF dealings to Inkombank, a Russian bank which used the information to make large profits in the markets.
Then, in September 2000, the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported rumours that a central bank outside the Euro zone leaked plans for intervention to support the euro with the result that Citibank bought up euros in large volumes for a U.S. hedge fund company.
In the novel, the Mafia use a commercial bank as a vehicle to engage in trades which enable them to profit from the inside information they have about decisions of the central banks. It is widely known that following the collapse of Communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union criminals infiltrated the Russian banking system. However the Mafia have been able to penetrate banks in western countries, which supposedly have much better established regulatory systems to prevent such things from happening.
In June 2000 it was revealed that the Mafia had used DMN Capital Investments in an attempt to manipulate the New York Stock Exchange. In October that same year Italian police foiled an attempt by the Mafia to transfer a trillion lire belong to the Sicilian regional government to other accounts using a computer system established with the help of corrupt officials in the bank. Nest of Vipers was published before these cases came to light.
This excerpt from Nest of Vipers describing a feverish episode of currency speculation was read by Linda Davies at a conference in Amsterdam on European Monetary Union where she gave a speech on the Psychology of Risk, Speculation and Fraud.
Nest of Vipers is available as an ebook from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.ca for the Kindle reader and from Barnes & Noble for the Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo and most other readers. It is also available as a paperback from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.ca and other suppliers.
Slangereden. København: Lindhardt og Ringhoff, 1995. ISBN 87 595 0545 1.
Yksin sis piiriss. Porvoo Helsinki Juva : WSOY, 1995. 346 s. ISBN 951 0 20521 4.
L’initiée. Paris: B. Grasset, 1995. 333p. ISBN 2 246 49961 5.
Oehwan dillo. Soul-si: Miraesa, 1995. 451p. ISBN 89 7087244 2.
Das Schlangennest. Düsseldorf: Marion von Schröder, 1995. 381 S. ISBN 3 547 72041 9.
This book can be ordered from Amazon.de, the German branch of Amazon.com.
Ken ha-tsifonim. Or Yehudah:Sifriat Ma’ariv, 1996. 272p.
Kigyoverem. Budapest :Europa Konyvkiado, 1996. 387 p. ISBN 963 07 6092 4.
Nido di Vipere Il Sole, 1996.
Ninho de víboras. Objetiva, 1996. 304p. ISBN 85 7302 056 3.
Gadiushnik. Moskva : Idz-vo AST, 1998. 459p. ISBN 5 15 000978 4.
Nido de viboras. Barcelona: Plaza & Janes, 1996. 408p. ISBN 84 01 32658 3.
President Fujimori accepting a copy of Nido de Viboras
I huggormens bo. Stockholm, Forum, 1995. 342 s. ISBN 91 37 10744 5.
Other languages into which translations have been made include those listed below. The names of the publishers are shown in brackets.
Bulgarian (Hermes), Czech (Progress International / Alpress), Greek (Plus One) ISBN 960 360 850 5, Indonesian (Gramedia), Japanese (Hayakawa) ISBN 4 15 207916 9, Polish (Amber) ISBN 83 7082 452 8.