TOSHIHIDE IGUCHI IT was the most extraordinary resignation letter. Toshihide Iguchi did not bother with a few terse words or a couple of sentences of remorse. He penned a 30-page magnus opus containing details of an expensive yet ill-conceived financial fraud. By the time the contents of his letter had been assessed, Daiwa, the Japanese bank, was US$1.1 billion (about HK$8.5 billion) the poorer. Loser of the week hardly does him justice. As only the second man in banking history shown to have blown a billion bucks, it goes much deeper than that. About 11 years ago, this diminutive 44-year-old Japanese banker tried to cover up a US$200,000 trading loss. He figured he could conceal it long enough to win the money back - and no one would be any wiser. He decided to play double or quits. He doubled his bets to cover the shortfall - and lost. Then he trebled them, quadrupled them and quintupled them - and lost again. More than a decade of deception later, his losses broke through the billion dollar barrier, at which point he committed intellectual hara kiri and confessed all. There is an assumption that extraordinary events are only ever perpetrated by extraordinary people. But in the world of finance this does not apply. The demise of Baring's trader Nick Leeson - the other man to have blown a billion - is proof of this. Barings was a blue-blooded institution for which the word venerable was designed. Conversely, Mr Leeson was a north-London boy made good. He liked a drink. He was a bit of a lad. He dropped his trousers at parties. For the majority of the finance industry, Leeson was 'just not one of us'. The pinstripe brigade rallied around the flag and Mr Leeson's shortcomings were, they whispered, the result of his more humble origins. Similarly, it is only Mr Iguchi's averageness that makes him extraordinary. He is a man of utter mediocrity, and that alone is enough to make him an oddity on Wall Street. During the 80s when Mr Iguchi's failed scam was at its zenith, Wall Street reverberated with stories of traders such as Jeff 'Mad Dog' Beck who used to howl like a dog when he concluded a sale and once streaked down Wall Street in the belief that he was Jesus. Mr Iguchi was no Mad Dog. He took only a few days off a year, it is said, which made it harder for his company to discover his misdeeds. But when he appeared in court this week in the US, he did not stand proud. He shuffled his feet, gazed at the ground and wriggled his wrists in their manacles, more like a mongrel on his way to the pound. He went out with a whimper. Rather than attending one of the Ivy League universities from which Wall Street hires, Mr Iguchi enrolled at Southwest Missouri State University, a school best known for its drama programme. His first job was as a car dealer, but he made the logical progression to stockbroker and joined Daiwa Securities in 1975. Wall Street has latched on to the circumstances of Mr Iguchi's life with gusto, as if his mediocrity explains and justifies his actions. There is a sense of relief that he was not a player. He did not drive a Porsche, he did not live in Manhattan and he was relatively normal. He did not want to be a Master of the Universe, he was happy enough being master of his smallholding in suburbia. But for Wall Street, it is not enough for a man to be a loser in financial terms. His life, upbringing, education and career path have to be seen to be a total loss as well. As it turns out, this week they got their pound of flesh.