UBS ex-trader Kweku Adoboli's tears in the dock

Banker who lost UBS US$2.3 billion says 'off-book trades' intended to make bank money

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 3:35am

Former UBS trader Kweku Adoboli wept yesterday as he told a jury that his "off-book trades" were done for the benefit of a bank that meant everything to him.

Addressing the court for the first time since his trial started six weeks ago, Adoboli said he believed his behaviour was not fraudulent and he had worked incredibly hard for years to generate profits.

"UBS was my family and every single thing I did, every single bit of effort I put into that organisation, was for the benefit of the bank," said Adoboli, his voice breaking as he thumped the witness box with his hand.

"That is everything I lived for ... To find yourself in Wandsworth Prison for nine months because all you did was worked so hard for this bank," he said.

The 32-year-old British-educated Ghanaian was arrested on September 15, 2011, and blamed for losses of US$2.3 billion. He was in custody until he was granted bail in June 2012.

He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud and four of false accounting, covering the period between October 2008 and September 2011.

The prosecution say Adoboli traded far in excess of his authorised risk limits, concealed his unhedged positions by booking fictitious hedges, and lied to the back office when asked questions about his accounts.

Adoboli told the court he had begun making what he called "off-book trades" in late 2008 after realising the Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) desk where he worked faced mounting costs that would reduce any profits it could make.

Asked about his so-called trading "umbrella", which has been the subject of intense scrutiny during the trial, Adoboli described it as an accounting mechanism with a legitimate purpose.

He said it consisted of holding some trades off-book for a period of time to try to generate a profit. Then those profits would be leaked back into the profit and loss account to offset costs incurred by the ETFs desk such as funding costs. "The umbrella was one of the mechanisms we used. Ultimately everybody knew about it," he said.

The trial continues.