Bank trader 'gambled away £1.4bn'

Blackpool Citizen: Kweku Adoboli faces two counts of fraud and two of false accounting at Southwark Crown Court Kweku Adoboli faces two counts of fraud and two of false accounting at Southwark Crown Court

A "rogue trader" accused of Britain's biggest banking fraud was "a gamble or two away from destroying Switzerland's largest bank for his own gain", a court has heard.

Kweku Adoboli, 32, is accused of gambling away £1.4 billion while working as a trader for UBS.

At one point he was at risk of causing the bank losses of 12 billion US dollars (£7.4 billion), jurors at Southwark Crown Court were told.

Adoboli, who is facing two counts of fraud and two counts of false accounting between October 2008 and last September, allegedly gambled away the money on high risk trades aimed at boosting his annual bonuses and job prospects.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said: "He is on trial because he lost his bank 2.3 billion US dollars (£1.4 billion). He fraudulently gambled it away. He also, in doing so, wiped around 10% or about 4.5 billion US dollars (£2.8 billion) off the bank's share price.

"He did all of this by exceeding his trading limits, by inventing fictitious deals to conceal this and then he lied to his bosses. Mr Adoboli's motive for this behaviour was to increase his bonus, his status within the bank, his job prospects and of course his ego. Like most gamblers, he believed he had the magic touch. Like most gamblers, when he lost, he caused chaos and disaster to himself and all of those around him."

Adoboli 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. The bank set a daily trading limit for the ETF desk of 100 billion US dollars (£61.5 billion), and also used hedging to reduce risk - for example buying one type of investment and simultaneously selling a similar one to mitigate any loss.

Prosecutors claim Adoboli failed to hedge several of his investments in order to make a bigger profit for the bank and larger bonus for himself. Ms Wass said: "At one stage Mr Adoboli was in danger of losing the bank nearly 12 billion US dollars (£7.4 billion) of unhedged investments."

Adoboli, from Clark Street, Whitechapel, east London, "fraudulently side-stepped" the bank's rules that banned high risk and unauthorised trades, the court heard. Ms Wass said: "To put the huge trading loss in some sort of perspective, 2.3 billion US dollars is enough to pay a year's salary for nearly 70,000 new nurses or two Wembley stadiums or perhaps even six new hospitals."

Adoboli fell into a "gambling mindset" and very quickly the losses he was causing grew into billions, the court heard. He eventually sent an email to colleagues in September last year, outlining the hole in UBS's accounts. 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, the court was told.

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