UBS risk limits "didn't matter": ex-trader's lawyer

Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:34am EDT
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By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) - A culture existed at UBS UBSN.VX where traders felt they could ignore risk limits as long as they were making money for the Swiss bank, the lawyer for accused "rogue trader" Kweku Adoboli told a London court on Thursday.

Adoboli, 32, was arrested on September 15, 2011, and is now on trial accused of fraud and false accounting that cost UBS $2.3 billion. He has pleaded not guilty.

The hearing on Thursday morning laid bare the human drama behind the jargon of the trading floor, with Adoboli at one point in tears at the back of the courtroom under the emotional impact of the evidence that was presented to the jury.

In particular, Adoboli heard his lawyer read out long excerpts from his performance appraisals, in which he was described as an outstanding and popular member of UBS staff with a great future ahead of him.

He also watched Ronald Greenidge, a former boss with whom he had friendly relations, face a barrage of tricky questions from his own lawyer, Charles Sherrard.

At one point during the tough cross-examination, Greenidge became unwell and had to be helped to a chair by a court usher. The hearing was adjourned for about half an hour before Greenidge resumed giving evidence.

His cross-examination was the first opportunity for Adoboli's defense team to present his view of events.

The thrust of the argument, expressed through Sherrard's questions, was that the bank had turned a blind eye to traders exceeding risk limits in the pursuit of ever greater profits.   Continued...

Former UBS trader Kweku Adoboli leaves Southwark Crown Court in London September 14, 2012. Adoboli, who was arrested a year ago when a loss of $2.3 billion came to light, is charged with fraud and false accounting. REUTERS/Neil Hall