Convicted fraudster* Kweku Adoboli first made headlines in 2011 when it was discovered that while working for UBS, he incurred the largest trading losses in British history — more than $2 billion. After serving time in prison, he now says that banks are still at risk for massive fraud.
Adoboli first began working at UBS as an intern in 2002. He rose through the ranks to become a trader on UBS’ exchange traded funds (ETFs) desk by 2005 and was named a director in 2010. According to charges brought against him, he began covering up trades that resulted in losses as early as 2008. During his tenure at UBS, he exceeded his risk limits and entered false trades into the computer system to cover his tracks. He also kept profits from some successful trades in a slush fund that he used to mask devastating losses in others.
According to an interview with the Financial Times, when Adoboli realized that the losses associated with his trades and accounts had spiraled out of control in September 2011, he sent an email to UBS confessing his unsanctioned trading and false reports. He was arrested and charged with two counts of fraud and four counts of false accounting. By 2012, he was acquitted of the false accounting charges, but sentenced to seven years of prison for the two counts of fraud.
In the wake of the trading scandal, UBS’s CFO testified that 500 jobs were lost and its share price dropped by $4.5 billion.
Recently, after his release from prison in June 2015, Adoboli told the BBC that his story should not be considered an isolated incident. “If investment banks continue to chase the same level of profitability as they have in the past, the only way to generate those profits is to take more risk,” Adoboli said. “But from a politics angle, the desire is to limit that risk taking, to limit the profitability, but you have these conflicted goals. And where the conflict comes is where people fall into this grey zone, and so I think it can absolutely happen again.”
Adoboli will be addressing more than 200 anti-fraud professionals at the 2017 ACFE Fraud Conference Europe in London, March 19-21. Don’t miss your chance to hear from him and other speakers — register today at
*The ACFE does not compensate convicted fraudsters.