The rogue trader who was jailed after losing UBS £1.4 billion has warned that banks have not done enough to reform internal controls and his type of trading crime “could absolutely happen again” at a major investment bank.
Kweku Adoboli, who was jailed in 2012 in Britain’s biggest ever rogue trader case, told the BBC in an interview:
“The young people I’ve spoken to, former colleagues I’ve spoken to, are still struggling with the same issues, the same conflicts, the same pressures to achieve no matter what.
“Where the conflict comes is where people fall into this grey zone. I think it could absolutely happen again, especially as we go into what I think could be the next phase of the great financial crisis over the next 12 to 18 to 24 months.”
Adoboli ran a secret slush fund within UBS and booked fake deals to cover the risk he was taking. The losses he ran up at one point looked like they could send UBS under, and he was dubbed a “master fraudster” during his trial.
Adoboli was sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud in 2012 relating to his huge trading losses during the height of the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. He was released after serving 2-and-half years of his sentence in several different jails, including an immigrant detention center in Kent.
The former trader told the BBC:
“I don’t think I’m a criminal. It’s a label that I have. You made a terrible mistake, you made a sequence of terrible choices, but your heart was always in the right place. I accept that I was found guilty of a crime that had dishonesty central to it. I accept that I was dishonest in the way I was doing what I was doing.”
But he added: “I have apologised and I will continue to apologise … The very first thing I did when I was arrested was say I was sorry beyond words. I said it through my lawyers, but that is what I said.”
Adoboli, who now speaks at conferences on compliance for free, said that banks also need to do more to change the image of finance in society and the culture within the industry.
“Unfortunately, the conversations I’ve had with people in the industry over the last year, through the conferences I’ve spoken at, the seminars I’ve been involved in, everyone — the young traders, the senior executives — everyone in the industry is still looking for a way to change culture within the industry.
“We still have so much work to do to get the finance industry in a position where it’s trusted by society, that it’s contributing something consistently that helps society move forward.”
Adoboli recently lost an appeal against deportation from the UK to Ghana, where he was born. Adoboli has lived in the UK since he was 12.
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