A rogue trader who lost £1.4bn in bad deals that almost brought down Swiss bank UBS has been jailed for seven years. At one point during his run of losses, City trader Kweku Adoboli stood to lose approx. £7.5bn for the bank. The 32-year-old had admitted to the losses, but denied any wrongdoing. Jurors convicted him of two counts of fraud by abuse of position linked to the £1.4bn loss, but cleared him of four counts of false accounting between October 2008 and September last year.
Judge Mr Justice Keith, sentencing, told Adoboli: “There is a strong streak of the gambler in you. You were arrogant to think the bank’s rules for traders did not apply to you.”
Adoboli maintained during the two-month trial that senior managers had been fully aware of his activities and had encouraged him to take risks to make profits for UBS. He wept as he gave evidence for the first time last month, saying everything he had done was aimed at benefiting the bank, where he viewed his colleagues as “family”. Adoboli also said the multi-billion-dollar deals happened at a time when he was suffering from burnout and had “lost control” of his trading.
But prosecutors painted a different picture, saying Adoboli had exceeded his trading limits, failed to hedge trades and faked records to cover his tracks in a bid to boost his status and ego. They said he saw himself as having a “magic touch” as a trader.
Prosecution lawyer Sasha Wass told jurors that he was “a gamble or two away from destroying Switzerland’s largest bank for his own gain”.
“Mr Adoboli’s motive for this behaviour was to increase his bonus, his status within the bank, his job prospects and, of course, his ego,” she said.
Adoboli joined UBS as a graduate trainee in 2003 and, at the time of the fraud, was a senior trader on the Exchange Traded Funds desk at UBS’ investment banking arm in London. He was arrested in September 2011. The Crown Prosecution Service said, behind all the technical jargon heard during the trial, the case ultimately rested on whether Adoboli had acted dishonestly.
“He did so, by breaking the rules, covering up and lying,” said Andrew Penhale, deputy head of fraud at CPS.
“At the heart of any complex fraud is a simple notion of dishonesty which is something that we can all understand.”