UBS CEO Warns Staff Over Embarrassing Episode

UBS Fractured

Next week will be an interesting one for UBS, which will be back in the news as the trial begins London of Kweku Adoboli, who lost $2.3bn in alleged unauthorized trading bets.

And with this in mind, UBS Group CEO Sergio Ermotti has sent a message to staff this week, warning them that the bank's 'culture and practices' will doubtless be examined as the evidence is heard, and pointing out that they need 'to stay calm and objective and to avoid comment in order not to jeopardize the trial'.

Here's the message:

'Dear colleagues,

From 10 September 2012, the trial in connection with the unauthorized trading incident will begin in London. As you may know, these trading activities in 2011 led to a loss of over two billion US dollars at the Investment Bank.

It is important to note that UBS is not a party in the trial, and there is only one defendant in the dock. However, given how serious the consequences of the incident were, we must assume that UBS’s culture and practices will be examined during the course of the trial. This is, to a certain extent, understandable.

Today I wish to remind you of what I already stated at our Annual General Meeting earlier this year. We have improved internal monitoring and controls to ensure that something like this does not recur, or if it does, to ensure that it is detected and dealt with swiftly. We have taken appropriate disciplinary action against staff who did not uphold the high standards we expect. And we have also addressed the deficiencies in our internal control system for financial reporting, as we confirmed in our first-quarter report.

As uncomfortable as the entire trial will be for UBS, it will show us what the consequences are when misconduct occurs or when individuals do not take their responsibilities seriously. Misconduct also includes turning a blind eye, that is, failing to intervene when there are irregularities or failing to escalate concerns, however minor these may seem. Such behavior is unacceptable. Amidst all the progress that we have made since this incident, we must never forget that our reputation is more important than anything else and that every one of us is a guardian of that reputation.

During the entire duration of the proceedings, we will do our utmost to keep you informed about new developments and our position on them as quickly as we can. Even if the trial involves a high degree of media attention, it is important to stay calm and objective and to avoid comment in order not to jeopardize the trial. You should be aware that English law imposes strict restrictions on what can be said about ongoing proceedings.

We have been absolutely determined to learn from this incident and I am aware that you may have been embarrassed by this episode. However, it’s important that you do not allow others to put you down or let this incident detract from your many achievements. The details that will come to light during the trial concern the past and we should look to the future. We have made substantial progress over the past year, building up an industry-leading capital position that makes UBS one of the most financially sound firms in the world.

Please convey these messages in discussions with your clients, family and friends. You have every right to be proud of what we have accomplished.

Thank you for your support.

Sergio P. Ermotti'

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