Kweku Adoboli… From Rogue Trader to Critique of the Banking System…

Kweku Adoboli was convicted in 2013 of the largest fraud in British history. While working for UBC bank as a trader he disguised the amount of risk his trades were exposing the bank to by creating fake hedging trades which could have minimised losses.

He ended up losing the bank £2.3 billion, plead guilty to fraud and was sentenced to 7 years in prison in 2013.

He served 3.5 years, and then spent another couple of years unsuccessfully trying to avoid being deported to Ghana. This is despite the fact that he’d spent most of his life living in the U.K where his family and friends were also based. However he never bothered getting U.K. Citizenship and this meant it was easy for the U.K. government to deport him once he’d become a convicted criminal. He was eventually deported in 2018.

This TED video is worth a watch where he outlines his side of the story…

Was he a scapegoat…?

While Adoboli took responsibility for the the losses he incurred, he says this was because of his Quaker upbringing: you own responsibility as part of your duty to the community.

The problem is that UBS didn’t have the same sense of duty to him.

Adoboli says the bank was fine with his risk-taking when he was making the bank money, and much of the time sorting out other people’s problems. He says all that he was doing was working within the logic of the banking system to make them more money.

But as soon as this problem occurred they blamed him for the bank’s losses and put it all on him.

In reality, it was the culture of banking that was the problem. Adoboli’s job it turns out was sit between wealthy clients and the bank and make ETF trades to help clients avoid tax. That was his job, to basically shaft society for the sake of the rich, and he had to take risks to do that.

He now thinks banks encourage people to lose site of morality and just focus on making money without thinking about the consequences.

He maybe has a point, that it was the banking system that encouraged him to do what he did, even if he took responsibility.

Britain is a backward country…

Following his deportation he is also very critical of Britain. He sees it as a country in decline that is looking backwards. It is scared, closing its borders, and we see that today in the anti-immigration stance taken by the country.

Britain is also a country of blocked opportunities for young black men, which becomes obvious when you look at the ethnicity and crime statistics.

In contrast he thinks African countries such as Ghana have a chance to develop more inclusive democracies which empower young people.

Relevance to A-level sociology

This is just an update on the biggest white collar fraudster in British history. It’s interesting to hear his side of the story, rather than just the narrow media agenda.

To find out more you can see Kweku’s own website.

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