Cheering For Il Fiore – Dirty Money 3

This is not the first time Il Fiore has been cast in ill light.

“Singapore’s NDF trading market is an especially tight-knit group, according to people involved. One of their favorite hangouts was the Il Fiore (or The Flower), an easy-to-miss basement bar below a Singapore office block. Nicknamed “The Blackhole”, it’s dark and cozy inside, with a portrait of a topless woman in a red thong greeting patrons heading to the toilet.

Outside, it’s cramped and smoky, with card games common on the patio’s round tables.”

Ask anyone who has been in the markets in the 80’s and early 90’s if they have heard of Dirty Money ?

“105.   Khoo, Jonathan. Dirty money. Singapore: Summertime Books, 1992. vi, 229 p.Call No.: RSING S823 KHO
Abstract: ‘Joe See thought that he had landed the perfect job when he was hired as a trainee money-broker…. Shocked, at first, at the way his colleagues operated, he realized that he had to play the same game to stay inside. Caught in the wheeling and dealing, he forgot his principles, until… (Back cover).”
Source : National Library Board

Yes. Nice spill the beans book on the high lives and low lives of the largely, foreign exchange trading market here then.

Then Dirty Money 2 came along, naming and shaming another batch of traders till MAS stepped in an even thicker blue book Code of Conduct.

I will not delve into the details of those 2 tabloid style publications because I have not read either of them and will not say if I am qualified to write a Dirty Money 3 or 4, but latest headlines suggest it is all coming to a head in the US, at least.

I bet Il Fiore is featured in both of them, Dirty Monies !! In the old days where even Telerate sponsored price screens in the bar area.

I trooped down there yesterday evening for a short drink before main drinks at Post Bar, partly to catch up with an old friend and mainly looking for an excuse to scrutinise the so- called topless portrait which I confess I paid scant attention to, over the years.

Voila… presenting …. ANGIE !!! (with her consent to be published)

il fiore angie

Gee, its only Angie ! Best bar keeper in town, who will remember everyone’s favourite drinks, just like Cheers. Always get your top up before you ask for it, that you can’t get away without at least 4 shots, even if you are there for just a short drink ! Man, she will be a better trader than any of us for her wonderful memory and just shark like business acumen.

And since you are there, why not partake in some of the best char beehoon in Singapore – dish complete and perfect in itself without any need for condiments of any nature ? Or the fried white kway teow or black kway teow  ? And I admit, I had a hand in the inclusion of the maggi mee goreng, after incessant badgering, it became a mainstay on the menu, along side all the Italian stuff that an Italian named restaurant is supposed to serve.

And if I may add, it is about the only place in Singapore you can potentially witness a full monty, on one of Angie’s Xmas parties. She has 2 each year – one for ang mohs and one for Singaporeans. And it is at the ang moh one that we have the crudest dares performed by, usually, a middle aged ang moh broker.

Since the Reuters article, business has plunged – card tables removed and I see a motley assortment of withdrawn faces, grabbing their quick for the road drinks.

I am not the sort for sleaze, yet there is a familiar cosy sort of comfort about Il Fiore that has been around since the 80’s. Some people call it The Dungeon these days, for its dungeon like ambience that novitiates find intimidating until they secure the rite of passage, for Angie to remember their drinks and fall into the regulars category.

REUTERS INSIGHT: How Singapore’s currency club fell apart


ICAP Brokers on ‘Treasure Island’ Said to Reap ISDAfix Rewards

Hearing some deal makers on the move here. Surely for a pittance compared to what those New Yorkers were getting but for at least a larger than Toto winfall. But like the article suggests, the screens are important. Too much depends on the screens and he who has the clients, has the screen. Fixings happen throughout the day right up to the time the books are closed for their daily mark to markets.

Meanwhile, as far as the fixing scandals go.

RBS’s Japanese investment bank chief to go
UBS Sued by Fired Singapore Traders’ Former Manager Venkatesan
RBS dollar rates trader dismissed amid internal probe weeks after Libor fine |

The second case is close to home for us. Big name, big bank.

My thoughts ?

Sure the NDF club is closed but there is a host of other products, and those that are left are even stronger in their consortiums, along with their powerful brokers, husbands and wives, friends and relatives all through Whatsapp these days. Information sharing at the pinnacle of its efficiency.

Dear old Il Fiore has seen it all. Scandals of the past and present and perhaps, scandals brewing in the future.

It truly deserves to be preserved as part of our banking heritage.