In March, 23-year-old UK Foreign Exchange trader Alex Hope made headlines for reportedly spending more than $320,000 on champagne at a Liverpool night club. Exactly one month later, he's back in the news. But this time, instead of libations, it's about allegations.
Hope was arrested Tuesday by the U.K.'s Financial Services Authority "on suspicion of being involved in an unauthorised foreign exchange trading scheme," City A.M reported. His publicist, who told City A.M. that Hope denies the allegations, had no further comment when contacted by The Huffington Post.
A little more than a week ago, Hope came to HuffPost's offices to talk about his passion for foreign exchange trading and the public's mixed reaction to his nightclub spending spree. Dressed in a sharp navy blue suit and wearing an expensive watch with a pair of white athletic socks, Hope chatted about his meteoric rise to trading stardom, his aversion to the celebrity lifestyle and what it means to "splurge sensibly."
But given recent events, Hope's critics might feel justified in condemning his decadent display of wealth amid a struggling global economy. And the fans who congratulated Hope's success, asking for trading tips via his twitter account, could be having second thoughts.
Here's what Hope had to say when he visited HuffPost last week, before the arrest news broke.
HuffPost: You taught yourself the Foreign Exchange market. Why do you think you've been so successful?
Alex Hope: Because I’ve literally dedicated my whole life to it. I've worked extremely hard, even when friends are partying on the weekends and this and that. That wasn't me. I'm not a big-headed person but I believe my psychology is just unbelievable. The way I think, I'm almost like a robot when I trade.
HuffPost: So luck doesn't come into the equation?
Alex Hope: [People] always say 'oh is it gambling?' ... Guessing is gambling, knowing what you're doing equals a calculated risk. If I cross the road and I get knocked over by a bus, that's a gamble I took. But if I'm about to cross the road, and I look left, I look right and I still get knocked over by a bus, that's OK because I analyzed the situation. That's the difference between trading and gambling.
HuffPost: Why Foreign Exchange?
Alex Hope: The reason why I trade foreign exchange and not the stock market ... is because to make money on the stock market you need to know the insides and what's happening. That's called insider trading. Really, you don't want to be a part of that because that's obviously illegal. But the currency market is such a big market ... it's easier to do well because it's easier to predict.
HuffPost: You've had a lot of success and exposure recently. What is it like to be 23 years old and partying with British soccer stars and celebs like Katie Price?
Alex Hope: For me that's not my lifestyle. What I've been doing for the last five years is working and teaching Foreign Exchange. So to go out one night and get so much media attention, it's quite funny. But I'm not starstruck or anything like that, I'm a very humble guy. There's not many people I idolize because if you concentrate on wanting to be like them, how are you ever going to be like yourself?
HuffPost: What happened the night you bought the Ace of Spades?
Alex Hope: I got invited to a club in Liverpool. There's this big bottle of champagne called Ace of Spades, 30 liters, it's a very unique bottle. People like Jay-Z have bought it. It's specially made in France. I'm not a drinker at all but I've always wanted to buy this bottle. And I thought to myself, 'I never treat myself, I don't have a flashy car, but if I go out let me buy this bottle,' and for me it will be like an achievement thing to say: 'I've done well, I'm having a bit of fun and that's it.' It was more for the other people around me. I spent a lot of money at a nightclub for a normal person, but to me it wasn't such a large amount because of the fact that I've done very well in my field.
HuffPost: Did you foot the entire $320,381.65 bill?
Alex Hope: Yeah, I picked up about 80 percent of that bill. But that unique bottle was something I paid for and was happy to pay for because it's something I really wanted. I think only three or four people in the world have ever bought that, so for me to be the youngest it's like really neat. I told you, Jay-Z's bought it and to be associated with someone like that just by buying a bottle of champagne is quite nice.
HuffPost: What's your response to all the criticism?
Alex Hope: Well, I'd say 90 percent of the comments have been positive ... but you're always going to get negative comments like on anything. It's like Beyoncé. She's a great singer, she has great videos and you have 99 percent good comments but you'll always have one or two people who might say, I don't like it. But that just comes with any territory when you're doing well, to be quite blunt. I've coped with it well so it doesn't bother me.
HuffPost: How much are you actually worth?
Alex Hope: It's in the millions. My short term goal is to raise quite a lot of money. Forty, fifty million would be great in the next five to ten years. For someone my age in the UK, I'm doing very, very well.
HuffPost: You tweeted a link to a personal finance article by Bankrate.com last week that advised people to 'splurge sensibly.' Do you think the Ace of Spades was a sensible splurge?
Alex Hope: Splurge is such a unique word isn't it? You can look at it from a good sense or a bad sense but splurging is obviously spending and it's about spending responsibly. I like to buy clothes, I'll admit I'm a shopaholic. There's nothing wrong in that.
HuffPost: What are you going to do for your 24th birthday? Another bottle of Ace of Spades?
Check below to see the different sides of trader, partier and now suspect, Alex Hope:
Hope told The Huffington Post that he taught himself the amount of Economics he would learn at a three year university course in the "space of about a year."
Alex Hope is pictured with owner of the Playground nightclub, George Panayitou, where he spent a reported $320,381.65.
Hope's work day starts at 7am and "usually finishes by about 12 midnight," he told Start Your Business Magazine.
The 30-liter Ace of Spades bottle was reportedly carried in by two waiters to the soundtack of 2001: A Space Odyssey's "Dawn Of Man," according to The Daily Mail.
Hope told The Huffington Post that his future goals include setting up a hedge fund as well as academies to teach Foreign Exchange. "Where I'm gonna be when I'm 30 is going to be unbelieveable," he said.
The final tab included: -A Midas (30 litre) bottle of Armand de Brignac Ace Of Spades champagne at $198,641.78. -A smaller Armand de Brignac bottle for $38,138.69. -40 standard bottles of Armand de Brignac, at $794.59 each. -20 glasses of Coca-Cola totaling $63.56