Perhaps it’s appropriate that the reputation of Japanese financial giant Sumitomo Corporation would be tarnished by a metal trade gone wrong. In 1995, it emerged that the company’s top copper trader, Yasuo Hamanaka, had been covering up losses on his balance sheets totaling some $2.6 billion.
Hamanaka, known as “Mr. Five Percent” for his control over a vast portion of the world’s copper, had been hiding his losses and forging his bosses’ signatures on unauthorized trades for a whole decade of secret swindling. While investigators have questioned whether one man alone could have sustained such a coverup for such a length of time, the former copper connoisseur said he acted alone, admitted to charges of forgery and fraud in court and was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.