Profile: The 'thoroughly decent' man who was left looking for a miracle


Neighbours of Kweku Adoboli had noticed him working much longer hours than normal in recent days, doubtless assuming that the smartly dressed trader was engrossed in one of the big deals that had propelled him into the upper echelons of one of the City's most illustrious banks.

The sheer scale of the transaction that the 31-year-old had been working on became painfully apparent at 3.30am yesterday, when officers from the City of London Police arrived at a building believed to be the bank's Finsbury Avenue offices and arrested him on suspicion of having committed the largest single fraud by an individual in the history of the Square Mile.

His father, a retired Ghanaian United Nations official named John Adoboli, spoke last night of his heartbreak at hearing the news. "Fraud is not our way of life. I brought them up to be God-fearing and to appreciate decency," he said.

After a six-year career at Swiss bank UBS which saw him rise impressively from a trainee to a director in equity trading, earning a six-figure salary along the way, Mr Adoboli was allegedly staring at a £1.3bn loss after carrying out unauthorised transactions.

It is unclear how long the keen amateur photographer had spent trying to make good any shortfall, but his most recent post on his Facebook page, written on 6 September, was an indication that things were not going well. It simply read: "Need a miracle."

Since joining UBS in March 2006 as a trainee investment adviser, Mr Adoboli had developed an expertise in complex financial instruments called exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and a little-known trick of the investment banking trade known as the Delta One business, which can make vast sums from tiny fluctuations in the value of an asset or product.

But like Jérôme Kerviel, the trader for Société Générale whose unauthorised trading in 2008 cost the bank €4.9bn (£4.3bn), Mr Adoboli had also acquired experience in the back office of his employer, working as an analyst to explore the minutiae of the trading niche for which he later became one of UBS's four "market makers".

If it is proved that he committed fraud, it is possible this deep knowledge of his bank's procedures allowed him to conceal any snowballing losses.

Although he enjoyed some of the trappings of a City lifestyle, including a 3,000sq ft apartment, friends insisted he is far from the stereotype of a financier and was more interested in discussing photography or cycling.

Mr Adoboli spent part of his childhood in the Middle East before attending £26,000-a-year Ackworth School near Pontefract, in West Yorkshire. Former classmates said they remembered a "thoroughly decent" teenager who was keen on sports and expressed an interest in becoming an athlete or chemical engineer. Kathryn Bell, the headteacher, said: "He was an able student who made a very positive contribution."

After graduating in e-commerce and digital business in 2003 from Nottingham University, he moved to London and eventually entered the City.

Until May this year, he lived in a £1,000-a-week flat on Brune Street, near Spitalfields, a 15-minute walk from his office, before moving to another luxury flat in nearby Stepney. His former landlord, Philip Octave, said yesterday he had not been the "tidiest of people" and had twice fallen behind with his rent but was a "good tenant" overall. Mr Octave said: "He was a very nice guy, very polite. I would not say that he was a party animal."

Yesterday, as an international media pack descended on Mr Adoboli's former home, onlookers gazed up at a sign showing the building had once served as a poor house. Destitution may be the least of his concerns.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living