Kweku Adoboli nearly broke UBS. But we shouldn't deport him

It might not be a popular argument to make, but he has served his time, poses no real risk of reoffending, and could be very useful to Britain

James Moore
Chief Business Commentator
Tuesday 21 August 2018 10:27 BST
Rogue trader Kweku Adoboli
Rogue trader Kweku Adoboli (AFP / GETTY IMAGES)

The courts were told that rogue trader Kweku Adoboli was just “a gamble or two away” from destroying UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank.

Now he’s playing roulette with Britain’s capricious and cruel immigration system, and it’s his life that faces destruction with deportation to Ghana, a country in which he has not lived since he was four, a very real possibility.

Adoboli managed to rack up losses of £1.4bn through wildly reckless trading at the bank's London hub. It could have been far worse, although many would argue that if it would never have got to that stage had he been properly supervised.

For that, he was sentenced to seven years in jail for fraud and was paroled after about half that, putting him squarely in the cross hairs of the Home Office.

Now 37, Adoboli has lived here legally since he was 12, but never applied for citizenship. A sentence of four years is enough to be considered for deportation for someone in his position. Thousands have been.

Given that a number of perfectly innocent Britons have been wrongly thrown out of the country as a result of the ugly ‘hostile environment’ policy pursued by Prime Minister Theresa May while serving as Home Secretary, should we really be worried about this man?

There are many that would argue that Adoboli, who has to report to the police at monthly intervals while he fights to remain, should be gone already.

He’s a convicted criminal, that should be enough.

But wait just a moment.

Adoboli settled in Britain when he was 12, and has lived here for the great majority of his life.

There is a powerful, indeed compelling, case for treating people who come here as children like he did differently to those who arrive as adults.

I don’t deny that his offences were serious. Despite the troubling questions that cases like his always seem to raise, he deserved to be punished as do other white collar criminals.

But twice? Despite the fact that his crimes were not violent and there seems scant risk of his reoffending?

In fact, since being released Adobli has made efforts to show that he has learned his lesson. He has given lectures and speeches to people ranging from students, to business leaders, on banking reform and how to prevent his actions from being repeated.

Ex poachers can make for useful gamekeepers. Or, perhaps, consultant gamekeepers.

Kweku Adoboi, the banking equivalent of an ethical hacker. Would that be such a terrible thing?

He’s certainly making a more constructive use of his time than trading on infamy a la Nick Leeson, the Barings Rogue Trader, who is currently appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.

But rulez is rulez in Britain. So Kweku’s gotta go.

Sometimes rules are stupid and need to be changed.

Adoboli might not be the most deserving case, given the number of entirely innocent people who have been unjustly and unfairly removed from the UK in recent years.

But if, with his battle, he can play a role in the reform a bad system, then that would be a service he will have done his adopted home country, with his debt to its society having been paid.

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