A former UBS trader from Tower Hamlets has been jailed for seven years today after being found guilty of gambling away £1.4bn in Britain’s biggest ever fraud.
Kweku Adoboli, 32, from Whitechapel was described by the prosecution as a “master fraudster”, “a greedy banker”, and claimed he was “a gamble or two away from destroying Switzerland’s largest bank”.
The Ghana-born rogue trader was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of two counts of fraud and cleared of four other counts of false accounting.
The charges related to the period between October 2008 and September 2011, when he was said to have used “unprotected, unhedged, incautious and reckless trades” in order to boost his standing at the bank and increase his bonuses.
British-educated Adoboli joined UBS as a graduate trainee in 2003, and was described to the jury as a hard-working and devoted employee, so dedicated to UBS he had missed his grandmother’s funeral.
Despite being a relatively junior City trader, Adoboli managed to rack up more than £7bn in potential liabilities for UBS, enough to ruin the Swiss bank according to prosecutors.
Police were alerted to his actions after he sent an email to his bosses in September last year.
In it he said: “I take full responsibility for my actions and the s*** storm that will now ensue. I am deeply sorry to have left this mess for everyone and to have put my bank, and my colleagues at risk.”
Adoboli had pleaded not guilty on the grounds that his bosses condoned his actions, and that his colleagues were aware. Questions about his trades were only raised when they became loss-making, he claimed.
In a tearful testimony, Adoboli said: “I’m devastated but in the end the reason I’m most sad is because these losses weren’t the result of dishonesty or fraudulent behaviour. It was the result of a group of traders who were asked to do too much with too little resource in a market that was too volatile.”
Sasha Wass of the prosecution told the jury: “All you have are his unsupported smears to make it sound like UBS was replete with rogue traders like himself.”
In her closing speech, Wass concluded: “It was by any standard of the imagination a huge loss, the largest trading loss in UK banking history.
“The City banker, the star trader, was a lie, a fiction, based on a complete fantasy, an accounting fabrication.”
In a statement released today, UBS said: “We are glad that the criminal proceedings have reached a conclusion and thank the police and the UK authorities for their professional handling of this case.”