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updated: 9/14/2012 6:21 AM

Ex-UBS trader goes on trial accused of $2B fraud

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  • Kweku Adoboli, a former trader at UBS AG, arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. Adoboli is charged with falsifying records on exchange-traded fund transactions and other documents needed for accounting purposes as early as October 2008, according to his indictment.

      Kweku Adoboli, a former trader at UBS AG, arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. Adoboli is charged with falsifying records on exchange-traded fund transactions and other documents needed for accounting purposes as early as October 2008, according to his indictment.
    Bloomberg News

 
Associated Press

LONDON -- A senior trader at Swiss bank UBS was a "master fraudster" who lost his bank $2.3 billion through risky deals and deceit in a bid to improve his status, bonus and job prospects, prosecutors said Friday.

Prosecution lawyer Sasha Wass told a British jury that between 2008 and 2011 Kweku Adoboli lied to his employer, invented clients and breached the bank's safeguards against high-risk trading.

Ghana-born Adoboli was a senior equities trader with the bank in London when he was arrested in September 2011 after UBS discovered irregularities in trading records. The fraud wiped $4.5 billion, or 10 percent, off the share price of Switzerland's biggest bank, Wass said.

"Like most gamblers, he believed he had the magic touch," Wass said as she began laying out the case on the first day of trial. "Like most gamblers, when he lost he caused chaos and disaster to himself and all of those around him."

She said Adoboli, who earned 360,000 pounds ($585,000) in salary and bonuses in 2010, "faked bookings, he created false accounts and conducted himself as a master fraudster, deliberately and systematically deceiving and defrauding the bank which employed him."

"He was risking the very existence of the bank by gambling its resources, ultimately for his own benefit," Wass said.

Adoboli, 32, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud and two counts of false accounting between 2008 and 2011.

The incident hurt the bank's efforts to restore its image after a Swiss government bailout and a tax evasion investigation in the United States.

Dressed in a gray suit, Adoboli sat on a bench with his lawyers in London's Southwark Crown Court. Part of an overflowing international press contingent filled the glass-enclosed dock where defendants usually sit.

The trial is scheduled to last eight weeks.

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