Ex-pupil jailed for fraud

Ackworth School.
Ackworth School.

A FORMER Ackworth School student who gambled away £1.4bn in the UK’s biggest banking fraud has been jailed for seven years.

City trader Kweku Adoboli, 32, a boarder at the Pontefract Road school until 1998, brought Swiss bank UBS to its knees by exceeding his trading limits and failing to mitigate the risk of reckless deals.

Jurors at Southwark Crown Court found him guilty of two counts of fraud on Tuesday after a nine-week trial, but cleared him of four counts of false accounting.

Sentencing him, Mr Justice Keith said: “Whatever the verdict of the jury, you would forever have been known as the man responsible for the largest trading loss in British banking history.”

Prosecutors claimed Adoboli was a gambler who believed he had the “magic touch”.

He joined UBS as a graduate trainee in 2003 and at the time of the fraud was involved in buying and selling exchange traded funds.

The rogue trader – who was described last year by Ackworth School headteacher Kathryn Bell as an “able pupil” – told the court he had been pressured by staff to take risks culminating in a catastrophe that wiped £2.8bn off the bank’s share value.

He said he worked gruelling hours which saw him miss his grandmother’s funeral and told of the pressure on him and colleague John Hughes, 25.

He said: “Our book was massive. A tiny mistake led to huge losses. We were these two kids trying to make it work.”

Charles Sherrard QC, for Adoboli, said the trader “gave his life to UBS” and had been “sorry from day one” for what happened.

He added: “Most significantly he has not been found to be driven by greed, ego, reputation or any sinister motive.”

The former public schoolboy received seven years for a charge of fraud by abuse of position relating to the £1.4bn loss and was sentenced to four years for a second count of the same offence, to run concurrently.

Mr Justice Keith said: “The tragedy for you is that you had everything going for you. Your father was in a position which enabled you to be educated at a private school.

“I’m not saying you came from a privileged background but you had some advantages others did not and you had your natural talents.

“Your fall from grace as a result of these convictions is spectacular. 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.”