'Rogue trader' Kweku Adoboli says he lost control in financial crisis


An alleged rogue trader accused of gambling away £1.4 billion described to a jury today how he “lost control in the maelstrom of the financial crisis”.

Kweku Adoboli, 32, is accused of committing Britain's biggest ever fraud while working for Swiss bank UBS during the global financial crisis.

He denies two counts of fraud and four counts of false accounting between October 2008 and last September after he set up an "umbrella" fund for off-book trades.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court heard the fund was doing well until he changed from a conservative "bearish" position to an aggressive "bullish" stance under pressure from senior managers.

Describing the moment when he began to make serious losses as European markets crashed in July last year, he said: "The real problem was a result of the pressure to flip my position from short to long, this broke my control.

"I absolutely lost control, I was no longer in control of the decisions around the trades we were doing."

Wearing a dark suit, white shirt and blue tie, Adoboli made the sign of the cross before giving evidence.

The former public schoolboy, of Clark Street, Whitechapel, east London, worked for UBS's global synthetic equities division, buying and selling exchange traded funds (ETFs), which track different types of stocks, bonds or commodities such as metals.

He claims senior managers were fully aware of what he was doing and encouraged him to push the boundaries to make profits for the bank.

Yassine Bouhara, former co-head of equities at UBS, allegedly told Adoboli in an email: "You don't know what your limits are until you push the boundary so far that you receive a slap on the back of the wrist."

Answering questions by his defence barrister Paul Garlick QC, Ghanaian-born Adoboli said: "There were no secrets, there was no hiding, there was no holding back.

"We were told to go for it, we went for it.

"We were told to push the boundaries, so we pushed the boundaries.

"We were told you wouldn't know where the limit of the boundary was until you got a slap on the back of the wrist.

"We found that boundary, we found the edge, we fell off and I got arrested."

The court has heard that at one point Adoboli was at risk of causing the bank losses of 12 billion US dollars (£7.5 billion).