The real-life Wolf of Wall Street has claimed London’s status as a top financial hub will be unaffected by Brexit, and described those warning over the City as “fear mongering”.
Jordan Belfort, the former penny-stockbroker depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorcese’s biopic, told the Press Association that he has “no doubts” that Brexit will work out for the City, maintaining that it will not lose business to rival hubs in the European Union.
Mr Belfort, who founded a now defunct brokerage firm in the US and spent 22 months in prison for scamming investors, said: “It’ll [Brexit] work out for the City, I have no doubt that stay, go, whatever, London is going to be a financial hub and it will remain a financial hub.
“It’s been there for hundreds of years, it’s not going to change, it’s all fear mongering on that level.
“People want to do business in London, they’re comfortable doing business here. They have been doing business for how many? 270 years, right?
“They’re still gonna do business here, it’s not going to go to Frankfurt or somewhere. No way is that going to happen”.
However, his comments come as a number of financial services firms ramp up contingency plans for Britain’s impending departure from the EU, with Barclays announcing last week that it will shift £160 billion worth of assets to Ireland.
This follows other banks which have set up hubs in the EU with jobs and assets moving out of London.
Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of Brexit, along with Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and Luxembourg.
Mr Belfort ran brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont and pleaded guilty to money laundering and securities fraud in 1999 and was ordered to pay 110 million US dollars (£85 million) to investors. However, the US government said that he still owes investors.
In prison, Mr Belfort wrote his memoir The Wolf Of Wall Street, which was turned into a film starring DiCaprio in 2013 and kicked off his second career as a motivational speaker.
He is in the UK promoting his speaking tour with shows in Essex, Glasgow and Manchester scheduled for May. Tickets range from £99 to £1,000.
Mr Belfort also said that the vote for Brexit was based on emotions centred around immigration but now the debate is more about logic, which is tougher to sell to the British people.
“It (Brexit) was an emotional move people were making, they felt like Britain was losing its own sovereignty, its ability to make decisions – it’s an emotional thing … and that emotion is really powerful. And nothing can rile people up when they have an emotional need for something, right? And that’s what drove people to vote to leave [the EU]”.
“When you tell people your country is going to change and you won’t be safe any more. All right, that’s some fear in there but that’s what causes people to vote in a way that you say ‘why would someone vote to disrupt the economy that much because it’s not a logical reason why’.
“Logical reasons why will be better off financially, we can control our own currency, there’ll be more jobs, you can have better trade deals – no one is going to be moved by that – that’s what’s happening right now. So right now, she’s (Prime Minister Theresa May) trying to sell all the logical reasons. It’s all about logic. That’s not what Brexit was about. It was an emotional move.”