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Risk limits didn’t matter at UBS as long as bank making money, trial told

THE culture at Swiss bank UBS while accused "rogue trader" Kweku Adoboli worked there was that risk limits could be exceeded as long as the bank was making money, a court was told today.

Adoboli, 32, was arrested on Sept. 15, 2011, and is now on trial in London accused of fraud and false accounting that cost UBS $2.3 billion (€1.8bn). He has pleaded not guilty.

Cross-examining Ronald Greenidge, one of Adoboli's ex-bosses, defence counsel Charles Sherrard read out an exchange between the two men that took place on an electronic chatroom on April 14, 2011. In the conversation, Adoboli made it clear he was finishing the trading day with a risk exposure of $40 million, beyond his desk's agreed $25 million overnight limit. Greenidge did not raise any questions about that.

"This is, I suggest, the first example of where the culture and practice of the bank you were both working for was that risk limits didn't matter as long as you were making money," Sherrard said.

Greenidge answered: "That's not true."

Almost immediately after the exchange, Greenidge asked judge Brian Keith for a pause, looking unwell. Keith immediately adjourned the hearing.