Saturday 22 November 2014

Fraudster who nearly broke bank after £1.4bn loss jailed

Margaret Davis, David Wilcock and Tim Moynihan

Published 21/11/2012 | 05:00

THE young man who gambled away £1.4bn (€1.7bn) in the UK's biggest banking fraud in history has been jailed for seven years in a "spectacular" fall from grace.

Kweku Adoboli, pictured, brought Swiss bank UBS to its knees by exceeding his trading limits and failing to mitigate the risk of reckless deals.

At one point the 32-year-old was on the verge of causing losses of $12bn (€9.3bn) and the hole he eventually left was the largest trading loss ever in British banking history.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court found him guilty of two counts of fraud, but cleared him of four counts of false accounting.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Keith told him: "Whatever the verdict of the jury, you would forever have been known as the man responsible for the largest trading loss in British banking history."

Former public school boy Adoboli wiped away tears as he sat in the dock, following his nine-week trial.

Catastrophe

He admitted the enormous losses but claimed that he was pressured by staff to take risks, culminating in a catastrophe that wiped £2.8bn (€3.4bn) off the bank's share value.

Mr Justice Keith said: "The tragedy for you is that you had everything going for you.

"Your father was in a responsible position which enabled you to be educated at a private school. I'm not saying you came from a privileged background, but you had some advantages others did not and you had your natural talents.

"You are highly intelligent. You are plainly very articulate. And as I told the jury, you appear to have a considerable amount of charm. Your fall from grace as a result of these convictions is spectacular.

"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."

He added that there were no other realistic verdicts open to the jury on the fraud charges apart from guilty.

But he was sceptical that his acquittal on the four charges of false accounting meant he was innocent, only that the jury had doubts over whether he planned to gain financially himself.

Adoboli received seven years for a charge of fraud by abuse of position relating to the £1.4bn loss, and four years for a second count of the same offence, to run concurrently.

He will serve half the term before being released on licence – 349 days will be taken off that period to count for the amount of time he has already spent behind bars or on an electronic tag.

Speaking outside court, Andrew Penhale, deputy head of fraud at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Behind all the technical financial jargon in this case, the question for the jury was whether Kweku Adoboli had acted dishonestly, in causing a loss to the bank of 2.3bn US dollars.

"He did so, by breaking the rules, covering up and lying. In any business context, his actions amounted to fraud, pure and simple.

"The amount of money involved was staggering, impacting hugely on the bank but also on their employees, shareholders and investors. This was not a victimless crime," he added.

The bank said in a statement: "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. We have no further comment."

Counsel for Adoboli, Charles Sherrard, said the trader "gave his life to UBS" and had been "sorry from day one" for what had happened.

Irish Independent

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