Rogue trader behind Britain's biggest fraud released early from prison

Kweku Adoboli

The City of London’s costliest rogue trader has been freed from prison almost halfway through a seven-year sentence for Britain’s biggest fraud.

Kweku Adoboli lost UBS £1.5bn with illicit trades that he concealed from superiors and was sentenced in November 2012. He was released from Maidstone prison in Kent last week.

He had spent almost nine months in custody before trial, so the total time he spent behind bars amounted to close to half his sentence.

Adoboli was a relatively junior trader at UBS, but the prosecution told his trial that at one point his losses were more than £7bn – enough to cause the collapse of Switzerland’s largest bank.

He was convicted of two counts of fraud and acquitted on four separate charges of false accounting. During the trial he wept frequently and the judge concluded that his main motive was not personal gain.

Adoboli joined UBS as a trainee in 2003 after graduating from the University of Nottingham. He started off working in the bank’s back office, where trades are administered, before trading futures contracts.

He lodged profits in a secret account, which he called the umbrella, and drip-fed them on to the books, but in 2011 market turmoil caused losses that he tried to recover with further unsuccessful bets.

The trial heard that, despite a combined salary and bonus of £360,000, Adoboli was in financial chaos, losing £123,000 in a year on private markets-based spread betting and taking out a series of payday loans to cover the losses.

Prosecutors told the jury he was out of control and that his reckless actions were designed to make him a star trader with a big bonus. He claimed his senior colleagues knew about the secret account and that he was put under pressure to increase profits by any means.

Adoboli is a Ghanaian citizen but was educated at a Quaker boarding school in Yorkshire, where he was head boy. His father, John, is a UN diplomat.

Another former UBS trader, Tom Hayes, is standing trial for alleged interest-rate rigging between August 2006 and September 2010.

Though Adoboli’s losses are the biggest accumulated by a City trader, their impact was not as great as those of Nick Leeson, whose secret trading caused the merchant bank Barings to collapse in 1995.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Sean Farrell, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 24th June 2015 13.21 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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