Published on 20 Nov 2012 Sections ,

UBS trader found guilty of ‘UK’s biggest fraud’

Kweku Adoboli is sentenced to seven years in jail after being found guilty of two counts of fraud linked to a £1.4bn loss which nearly brought down a major international bank.

Adoboli was acquitted of the four other outstanding false accounting charges. The jury was told that he was “a gamble or two away from destroying Switzerland’s largest bank”.

At one point during his run of losses, the rising star City trader stood to lose up to $12bn (£7.5bn) for his employer UBS. Adoboli wanted to be “a star trader” at the Swiss bank, however, instead he took too many risks and ended up causing devastating losses of £1.4bn.

He was trusted. He abused that trust. He lied and cheated to his colleagues but eventually justice caught up with him. DCI Perry Stokes

Detective Chief Inspector Perry Stokes from City of London police said: “Adoboli was a sophisticated fraudster. He was one of the most accomplished fraudsters that I’ve seen in my time investigating serious fraud.

“This was the UK’s biggest fraud, committed by one of the most sophisticated fraudsters the City of London police has ever come across.”

The former public schoolboy exceeded his multi million-pound trading limits and failed to hedge trades, allegedly faking records to cover his tracks at the Swiss bank’s London office.

Adoboli, who was born in Ghana, joined UBS as a graduate trainee in 2003 and, at the time of the fraud, worked for its global synthetic equities division, buying and selling exchange traded funds (ETFs), which track different types of stocks, bonds or commodities such as metals.

DCI Stokes said of Adoboli: “He was a rogue trader who committed systematic unauthorised trading and hid this activity through various concealment mechanisms.

“When challenged by colleagues within UBS, he tried to cover his tracks and lied about the true nature of his activity.

“He was trusted. He abused that trust. He lied and cheated to his colleagues but eventually justice caught up with him.

“This case should serve as a warning to others working within the financial sector, others who consider treading a similar path to Adoboli, they can expect exactly the same fate.”

‘Magic touch’

The prosecution at Southwark Crown Court argued that he was a gambler who believed he had the “magic touch”.

But, giving evidence, he said everything he had done was aimed at benefiting the bank, where he viewed his colleagues as “family”.

He admitted the losses but claimed that he was pressured by staff to take risks, culminating in bad deals which wiped £2.8bn off the bank’s share value when they were discovered.

Adoboli said he had “lost control in the maelstrom of the financial crisis”, and was doing well until he changed from a conservative “bearish” position to an aggressive “bullish” stance under pressure from senior managers.

He told the jury that staff were encouraged to take risks until they got “a slap on the back of the wrist”.

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