Accused UBS trader 'played God' over loss

Last updated 10:25 01/11/2012

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A banker accused of Britain's biggest fraud played God as he carried out "unprotected, unhedged, incautious and reckless" trades, a court has heard.

Kweku Adoboli, 32, allegedly gambled away £1.4 billion ($2.7 billion) in "off-book" operations while working for Swiss bank UBS during the global financial crisis.

The Ghanaian-born former public schoolboy has told jurors at Southwark Crown Court that his senior managers were aware of what he was doing and encouraged him to assume riskier positions.

Coupled with the "burn-out" he was suffering during market turbulence last year, this led to a loss of control over his trades, he claims.

But Sasha Wass QC, prosecuting, today told the court that Adoboli was trying to make the evidence as unclear as possible to the jury.

Cross-examining the defendant, she said: "You played God in that bank, tearing up the rules and doing whatever you wanted. Rules were for other people, that was your attitude."

It was Adoboli's desire to be recognised as a "star trader" which made him expose UBS to ever greater risks, Wass said.

"Your motivation was about your reputation, your ego and your desire to be a star trader."

He replied: "It's got nothing to do with me, it was all about the organisation. It was because of loyalty to UBS that I worked so hard.

"The reputation, well, it comes with the territory. I don't have a reputation to talk about."

"You do," Wass said, "but not the one you were aiming for."

Adoboli, of Whitechapel, east London, 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 court has heard that at one point he was at risk of causing the bank losses of US$12b).

He denies two counts of fraud and four counts of false accounting between October 2008 and last September.

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- AP

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