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Ghanaian Born Alleged 'Rogue Trader' At Centre Of UBS $2bn Loss Weeps In Court
Posted on: Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kweku Adoboli, the Ghanaian UBS trader alleged to have lost $2bn (£1.3bn) in unauthorised trading, today wept when he appeared before a court charged with fraud and false accounting.

Kweku Adoboli, 31, appeared before City of London Magistrates this afternoon, accused of carrying out unauthorised deals while working for the Swiss City firm.

The trader, from east London, was arrested yesterday over a £1.3 billion fraud at banking giant UBS.

During the fifteen minute hearing, the well-built Ghanaian was handed a tissue from the clerk as he wiped a tear away.

The fraud charge against him read: 'While occupying a position, namely being a senior trader with Global Synthetic Equities, in which you were expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of UBS Bank, you dishonestly abused that position intending thereby to make a gain for yourself, causing losses to UBS or to expose UBS to risk of loss.'

The alleged fraud offence took place between January 1 and September 14 this year, the court heard.

Adoboli, son of a former Ghanaian official for the United Nations, was arrested at his desk in a swoop by police in the early hours of Thursday.

A City of London Police statement said: 'At 12.56 the CPS authorised the charging of Kweku Adoboli, from Bethnal Green.

'City of London Police has since charged the 31-year-old with fraud by abuse of position and false accounting. He remains in police custody and is due to appear at City of London Magistrates this afternoon.'

The police inquiry is ongoing, a spokesman added.

Adoboli is believed to have blown the whistle on himself about the unauthorised deals.

UBS's internal controls were unaware of the the huge losses allegedly generated by 'rogue trader' Kweku Adoboli, 31, who allegedly confessed to bosses about the huge losses.

UBS are then believed to examined his trading positions and called City regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the police, according to the BBC.

After his arrest at his desk in the early hours of Thursday, Adobli has hired City experts Kingsley Napley, the law firm which advised Nick Leeson, the man who brought down Baring's Bank in the 1990s, according to Sky News. The revelations is set to add to fears about the risks taken by investment banks and heighten calls for greater regulation in the banking industry.

Adobli's last Facebook message, which was believed to have been left on Tuesday, September 6, read: ‘Need a miracle.’ He is then believed to have confessed to his bosses at Swiss banking giant UBS the extent of the losses he had racked up, as it is understood the bank were not aware of the suspected fraud.

The Ghanaian, who was privately educated in Britain and is the son of a retired UN worker, is accused of being responsible for the biggest loss ever accrued by a single trader based in London.

The £1.3billion figure easily dwarfs the £827million lost by rogue trader Nick Leeson, who served more than three years in a Singapore prison for forging documents and deceiving the bank's auditors. It equates to about the same amount UBS is seeking to save by cutting 3,500 jobs worldwide.

Speculation was mounting that he may have been caught out after the Swiss Central Bank unexpectedly devalued the franc last week, producing mammoth losses on one of his currency trades.

Champagne, Girls And An Obsession For Making Money

Kweku Adoboli has always believed life is about winning and losing. He certainly knew how to win. At his desk in the City of London, at home and into the early hours, he dreamed up every conceivable way of making money.

They ranged from scouring the internet to make a few quick pounds buying and selling some online bargain, to pulling off a spectacular deal that would net him and his superiors at UBS profits they could count in millions.

But long before detectives arrived to arrest him at 3.30am yesterday, he had also discovered what it felt like to lose – in his case a staggering £1.3billion.

A highly educated young man from a respectable background in Ghana, in some respects Adoboli lived the free-wheeling lifestyle of the archetypal City trader.

He mixed champagne with takeaway pizzas, and his parties were notoriously riotous. But he also frequently worked through the night, doing what his bosses paid him to do – take risks.

According to colleagues, Adoboli – the ex-public schoolboy son of a retired senior United Nations executive – was more than a flash trader motivated purely by conspicuous consumption. They said it was making the money that drove him, not spending it.

He worked under extreme pressure, making instant decisions with fortunes at stake and taking bets on tiny movements in equity trades. He also gambled on which way currency would move, studying trends and collating information through the night and predicting what would happen when the markets reopened. What appears to have happened is that the Swiss Franc moved quicker than he did, and downwards.

Born in the thriving Ghanaian coastal city of Tema to affluent parents, his talent for solving mathematical puzzles was clear from an early age.

His father – a much respected UN official who has since retired – decided to send his talented son, along with his other children to boarding schools in the UK. Adoboli adapted well to live in one of the boarding houses at Ackworth School, a fee-paying school in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, set up by Quakers in 1779.

Indeed, he was so well regarded by teachers that he was eventually made head boy. In a profile on the school website a teenage Adoboli wrote of his obsession with ‘sport, music, good reading and material things, (and girls as well).’

He also set out his ambition to be an athlete, writing: ‘If life is all about winning and losing then how can sport not be about winning and losing.’

After school, Adoboli toyed with becoming a chemical engineer before accepting an offer from the University of Nottingham to study a degree in E-commerce and digital business.

While at university he helped plan drunken nights out for new students, which he described as ‘an amazing opportunity for hundreds of students to meet at a jamboree of parties’.

After graduating in the summer of 2003, he lived in Nottingham for a while before moving to London where he relished the high life of the capital.

It was in March of 2006 that he joined UBS as a trainee.
In London, Adoboli threw himself into his work. He spent hours at his computer looking for minor investments and bargains, often Tweeting his triumphs so others could cash in on his research. ‘Check out this article!’ said one Tweet, giving an internet link. ‘I made $360 today!’

He also slipped easily into the cultural and social life of his adopted home in London’s East End. He was a familiar figure at the trendy Boundary complex of restaurants and bars in Shoreditch – yet also a big fan of KFC and Pizza Hut takeaways.



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