UBS banker Kweku Adoboli denies being a rogue trader after losing £1.4bn

 

A banker accused of Britain's biggest ever fraud today denied he was acting as a rogue trader when he lost £1.4 billion.

Kweku Adoboli, 32, is accused of gambling away the money while working for Swiss bank UBS during the global financial crisis.

At one point he was at risk of causing the bank losses of 12 billion US dollars (£7.5 billion), jurors at Southwark Crown Court have heard.

But Adoboli today insisted he was not acting as a rogue trader and denied he had been gambling with the money.

And he claimed that if what he was doing amounted to gambling, then so did investment banking as a whole.

Asked by his defence barrister Paul Garlick QC how he felt when the prosecution used the term "rogue trader" to describe him, he looked up to the ceiling for some time and fought back tears, before saying: "It doesn't feel fair."

He said the losses had been made after senior traders at the bank convinced him to change from a bearish to a bullish point of view in July 2011.

This change of position backfired dramatically as the European banking sector continued to spiral downwards, he said.

Describing how senior colleagues had encouraged him change his opinion: "At that stage I broke, I just broke.

"At that point I should have held onto my conviction of fear of the market.

"At that very point I changed my position, that is why I don't believe I was a rogue trader.

"I wish I was a rogue trader, I wish I hadn't listened," he later added.

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 told the jury he had put a "considerable amount of energy" into understanding what was driving the market.

Getting up at 3am to start work from home, he would constantly monitor what was going on in the financial markets, he said.

"The purpose of doing all that investigation and analysis is to increase the chance, to increase the level of understanding and reduce the number of things that are going to be surprises when you make decisions about where you think the market is going," he added.

"If that is just a calculated gamble, then all investment banking is a calculated gamble."

By 2007 Adoboli, aged just 27, and a more senior trader, John Hughes, 25, were in charge of a portfolio of companies with assets of 50 billion dollars (£31.1 billion).

Asked about his relationship with Hughes, he said: "We were brothers, we did everything together.

"We had the same dreams, we had the same desires.

"By this point we all wanted to achieve the same thing, which was to have a successful book."

Adoboli is facing two counts of fraud and four counts of false accounting between October 2008 and last September.

The Ghanaian-born banker enjoyed a rapid rise at UBS after completing an internship while a student at Nottingham University in 2002.

He secured a job with the bank in London in 2003 and moved to the company's ETFs desk in May 2006.

The trial has previously heard that Adoboli walked out of the bank, saying he was going to the doctor's, and an hour later sent a "bombshell" message from his personal email account.

In the message to colleagues, including William Steward, a co-worker who was checking his deals, he admitted that trades he had entered in the ledger were not real and some were "off-book".

Prosecutors claim this meant they were "illegally conducted and hidden trades".

Adoboli said he had hoped to make his losses back, but had "clearly failed".

The message read: "I am deeply sorry to have left this mess for everyone and to have put my bank and my colleagues at risk."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us