A gambling-obsessed rogue trader who was responsible for Britain's biggest fraud wept on Tuesday as he was jailed for seven years in what the judge described as a "spectacular fall from grace".
Kweku Adoboli, 32, almost brought down UBS bank when he ran up losses of £1.4 billion ($2.12 billion) in a series of disastrous trades.
The Ghanaian-born former public schoolboy claimed he had been pressured by his bosses into taking huge risks in order to maximise profits at the Swiss-owned firm.
But City of London Police described Adoboli as one of the most sophisticated fraudsters they had ever come across. Adoboli joined UBS as a graduate trainee in 2003, rising quickly through the ranks to become a £360,000-a-year director by the time of his arrest. He worked in the bank's global synthetic equities division, buying and selling exchange traded funds, which track different types of stocks, bonds or commodities such as metals.
Adoboli claimed in court he had "lost control in the maelstrom of the financial crisis" but the prosecution argued he was a gambler who believed he had the "magic touch".
Following his arrest, it emerged that not only had Adoboli run up huge losses for the bank, he had also lost more than £120,000 of his own money spread-betting on the financial markets.
Such was the scale of Adoboli's fraud that, when he was arrested, the custody sergeant was initially unable to fill in the paperwork because he was uncertain how many zeros were in a billion.
Jailing him for seven years, Mr Justice Brian Keith told Adoboli: "There is a strong streak of the gambler in you. You were arrogant to think the bank's rules for traders did not apply to you."
Adoboli wiped a tear from his face as the judge said he would forever be known as the man responsible for the largest trading loss in British banking history. He added: "Your fall from grace as a result of these convictions is spectacular. The fact is you are profoundly unselfconscious of your own failings."
The court heard that at one point Adoboli's losses exceeded £7 billion, and when the full extent of the fraud was discovered more than £2.8 billion was wiped off the company's share price.
After a nine-week trial at Southwark Crown Court, the jury found him guilty of two counts of fraud, but cleared him of four charges of false accounting.
Detective Chief Inspector Perry Stokes, from the City of London Police, said: "To all those around him, Kweku Adoboli appeared to be a man on the make whose career prospects and future earnings were taking off. He worked hard, looked the part and seemingly had an answer for everything. But behind this facade lay a trader who was running completely out of control and exposing UBS to huge financial risks on a daily basis."
The fact is you are profoundly unselfconscious of your own failings.
He added: "When Adoboli's pyramid of fictitious trades exceeded trading limits and non-existent hedging came crashing down, the repercussions were felt in financial centres around the world."
Andrew Penhale, the deputy head of fraud at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "The amount of money involved was staggering, impacting hugely on the bank but also on their employees, shareholders and investors. This was not a victimless crime."
Charles Sherrard QC, for Adoboli, said: "If there is one thing many of us have learnt as a consequence of 20 year-olds being put in charge of a $50 billion [trading] book is that the industry needs to take a long hard look at itself."
The Daily Telegraph, London