Corporate pranksters the YesMen have denied speculation that the independent trader who provoked an outcry yesterday with a BBC interview in which he claimed "Goldman Sachs rules the world" may have been a hoaxer from the activist collective.
In the interview about the latest proposed Eurozone rescue plan, 'Alessio Rastani' caused a stir by claiming "I have a confession: I go to bed every night and I dream of another recession".
Dismissing government efforts to prevent economic collapse, the interviewee insisted: "The governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world."
The BBC presenter Martine Croxall told Rastani that "jaws have just collectively dropped" in the studio at the comments and the interview quickly went viral.
However, as the day wore on, speculation grew that the trader may have been the creation of the YesMen, who according to their site, impersonate "big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else".
The group tricked the BBC several years ago, when a member bearing a striking resemblance to 'Rastani' impersonated a Dow Chemical spokesman in an interview promising compensation for the thousands of victims of the Bhopal disaster.
However, if 'Rastani' is a hoax he is an elaborate one; he has a Twitter account going back to 2009, a Facebook page and his own blog.
Following the controversy, the BBC's business editor Robert Peston took to Twitter to say: We spoke to the trader again this morning, & as far as we can tell he is a genuine independent trader, not a member of YesMen".
Peston also says that, whether fake or not, "he [Rastani] says what traders say privately to me".
The YesMen appear to agree, issuing a statement late Tuesday denying their involvement: "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."
Update:Wednesday morning and the truth about Mr Rastani begins to emerge - not a trader, but a publicity-seeking public speaker, operating out of a semi-detached house in Bexleyheath, South London. As one online commentator put it: "The guy is a charlatan. It may not have been a hoax in the true sense of the word but the BBC should have known his background and character and opted instead to interview someone with a better informed or knowledgeable and intelligent opinion."