The former UBS trader accused of Britain’s biggest banking fraud had lost track of his trading when he finally realised that he had lost billions, a court has been told.
Kweku Adoboli, 32, is accused of losing $2.3 billion (£1.4 billion) through unauthorised trading. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud and four of false accounting, and says that he was not acting dishonestly and that colleagues were complicit in his trading. Southwark Crown Court was told that the exchange-traded funds desk, where Mr Adoboli worked, had made large losses in July and early August last year as it continued “buying the dip” on a falling market in the hope that it would rally.
Mr Adoboli was too busy to reconcile his trades as he struggled with a volatile market and a demanding new client and so went into the office shortly after 4am on August 11 in order to work out his trading position. He said that he was in a “terrible state” when he realised that the losses had reached $2.2 billion. “I was devastated, I was heartbroken. I was angry. Lots of feelings,” he said. “It took me about two hours to go through all the trades — I had to recalculate it about two or three or four times because I just could not believe the nature of the losses.”
Sasha Wass, QC, for the prosecution, read evidence from text messages between Mr Adoboli and his girlfriend, which she said demonstrated that his account of events was untrue. The jury was told that within an hour of apparently discovering the losses, Mr Adoboli was “more concerned” that he was unable to get a haircut because of the riots that were taking place in London.
Ms Wass said: “You had just discovered that as a result of trading decisions that you say you were forced into by others, the bank that you loved like a family had sustained losses of $2.2 billion.” Mr Adoboli said that he was more relaxed than he had been in previous weeks because he was beginning to close out some of the positions. Asked by Ms Wass why he did not consider seeking help from back-office staff or his managers, Mr Adoboli said that he wanted time to recoup the losses. “I wish I had asked more for help. Trying to fix the situation was my worst decision and I wish I hadn’t.”
“Not creating the situation was your worst decision,” Ms Wass replied.