Alessio Rastani, who claimed on BBC News ‘I dream of another recession’, is not a ‘Yes Man’ – but he could be an honest trader.
He caused outrage with his comments on the global economic meltdown claiming “governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world”.
But is independent stock market trader Alessio Rastani, interviewed on the BBC News channel on Monday, all he appears to be?
Twitter was alive with suggestions that Rastani was in fact one of the “Yes Men”, a band of “identity correction” artists who pass themselves off as the corporations you love to hate.
When asked by the Guardian, via email, to respond to the allegation that he a member of the prank group, Rastani chose his words carefully. But the BBC‘s own investigation has concluded that Rastani is authentic.
The BBC has previously fallen victim to the hoaxers who, according to their website, “impersonate big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them”. Another of their number appeared on the BBC World news channel as a representative of Dow Chemical and announced the firm would fully compensate all those injured in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
Rastani told BBC News he had been “dreaming of this moment for three years … I go to bed every night and I dream of another recession”.
There is no individual registered with the Financial Services Authority under the name Alessio Rastani. But a Twitter feed, using the name Alessio Rastani, appears convincing and dates back more than a year.
Rastani has a website, leadingtrader.com. The contact page, however, did not load, repeating an error message that it “could not establish a database connection”.
The Yes Men featured in a 2003 documentary The Yes Men Fix The World, the subject of this interview with one of their number, Andy Bichlbaum.
A BBC spokesman said: “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.”
The Guardian contacted Rastani and asked he if was aware of the rumours about his identity circulating online. Rastani said he knew of the allegations but declined to comment on whether they were true, adding: “Conspiracy theories, eh!”
He added that he had been following the story’s development “a bit on Twitter” and was aware of the online reaction to his comments. He said before making further comment he would have to seek advice from a third party, and was in talks “with other media organisations” about writing further pieces for them.
While the Yes Men issued a statement commending Rastani for his “masterful performance”, and teasingly suggested his real name was Granwyth Hulatberi, who had once appeared on CNBC MarketWrap as a hoax World Trade Organisation representative, the group distanced itself from the trader. “Just kidding. We’ve never heard of Rastani. Despite widespread speculation, he isn’t a Yes Man. He’s a real trader who is, for one reason or another, being more honest than usual.
“Who in big banking doesn’t bet against the interests of the poor and find themselves massively recompensed – if not by the market, then by humongous taxpayer bailouts? Rastani’s approach has been completely mainstream for several years now; we must thank him for putting a human face on it yesterday.”