Alessio Rastani: Is BBC Market Trader Really Yes Men Founder Andy Bichlbaum?
If it’s too good to be true then it very often is.
A city trader who set jaws dropping on Monday after apparently confessing that he goes “to bed every night and dreams of another recession” has been branded a hoax.
Self-styled trader Alessio Rastani, 34, made world headlines after his bizarre appearance on the BBC.
But his interview has come under close scrutiny – resulting in Rastani being linked to a group of Internet “imposters” known as The Yes Men.
Many believe Rastani is in fact Andy Bichlbaum who created the group as a way of exposing lies and telling the truth in society.
'Rastani' is accused of a series of similar hoaxes including an appearance on the BBC in 2004 in which he claimed victims of the Bhopal disaster would receive compensation.
In the YouTube video from the 20th anniversary of the incident a man – who looks and sounds remarkably like Rastani - says he’s a spokesman for Dow Chemical which is paying out the money.
On Tuesday the BBC stood by the authenticity of their interviewee. "We've carried out detailed investigations and can't find any evidence to suggest that the interview with Alessio Rastani was a hoax.
“He is an independent market trader and one of a range of voices we've had on air to talk about the recession."
Forbes.com has also conducted a telephone interview with the mysterious trader who says he lives in south London.
In it He says he is obsessed with trading and that he has a book he’s trying to get published.
But on the question of hoaxing and asked if he’s heard of the Yes Men he says: “Heard of it before? Not quite sure why they’re calling me that. I have no idea where that came from.”
The Forbes interviewer then asks: “Because there’s a video of you posing as a Dow Chemical spokesman.”
He then answers: ”A Dow Chemical spokesman? Have you seen this video? That can’t be right. I’ve never spoken to Dow Chemical before in my life. Maybe it’s a fake. Are you sure about this? Honestly, listen, I’ve no idea where that came from. That interview yesterday was one of the first ones I did live.
“I don’t know why they think it’s a hoax. No, I am a trader absolutely. I have trader friends who could back that up. One of my mentors is a bestselling author and trader. Everyone knows me.”
UPDATE (9/27/11, 7:10 p.m. EDT): Rastani's trading may be a 'hobby' after all. The Telegraph has secured comments where he uses that term, while referring to himself as an 'attention seeker'. Check out the full interview here.