UBS “rogue trader” Kweku Adoboli was persuaded by his girlfriend to admit to the multi-billion pound losses he had built up through unauthorised trading.The investment banker sent his bosses an email revealing the extent of his losses after his girlfriend warned him not doing anything would “kill him”.
“In the end she was the strength,” he said. “She was the person who said to me ‘Kweku, if you can’t do this, if you can’t fix this, then look within yourself and maybe go and tell someone. This is going to kill you. You can’t keep fighting this battle that you are clearly not winning’.”
The conversation took place in July 2011, a month before Mr Adoboli admitted to the trades.
Despite admitting to unauthorised trading that eventually cost the bank $2.3bn (£1.4bn), Mr Adoboli denied defrauding the bank. He told a jury at Southwark Crown Court that he “lost control” of his trading position in the maelstrom of the financial crisis. However, he said he never attempted to defraud the bank.
He claimed he never acted dishonestly, but was simply reacting to pressure applied by his bosses to make money.
The turning point in his career came when he was told to move from a negative to a positive view on the European banking sector, Adoboli claimed. He said that suddenly turned trades that had been money-making into loss-making positions, forcing him to double up his position to try to recoup losses.
Although he has admitted to concealing the extent of his trading, Mr Adoboli claims the practice was not a secret within the bank.
“I lost control,” he said. “The result of that loss of control was an increasing number of breaks [accounting problems], a more frantic trading activity, a less controlled decision-making process.”
Mr Adoboli was working on UBS’s $50bn exchange traded funds desk when the unauthorised trading took place. He denies two counts of fraud and four counts of false accounting. The case continues.