Kweku Adoboli spent his childhood in Ghana, Israel and Syria before moving to the UK for boarding school age 12. He began his investment banking career at UBS as an intern in 2002 where his contributions quickly earned him a place on the bank’s London equities trading floor. In 2007, with just 10 months experience as a trader, he was given joint responsibility for the bank’s US$50bn ETF trading book. Kweku helped steer the desk through the global financial crisis as it became a highly profitable central driver of UBS’s post-crisis recovery strategy.
In 2011, under pressure to accelerate trading profits through complex client and proprietary trading strategies, the desk incurred a $2.3bln trading loss to the bank. Kweku assumed sole responsibility for the loss and systems employed by the desk despite proving the leadership, awareness and involvement of others in the institution. After a high profile trial, he was convicted of fraud, found not guilty of false accounting, and served half of a seven-year prison sentence.
Since his release from prison in June 2015 Kweku has worked with students, academics, regulators, media houses and corporates across the UK and around the world to help deliver lessons on risk management, ethics, complexity, failure and the global social contract. These institutions include: the Bank of England, The Forward Institute, Barclays UK, The Financial Times and the UK Special Forces Counter Terrorism Unit alongside Tony Blair and General Sir Peter Wall. Through his experiences, Kweku has gained a unique understanding of the geopolitical links between global financial systems, criminal justice and immigration systems, and our wider society. He is a staunch advocate for cultural and systemic change in the finance industry with a practical and academic focus on ethics, responsible leadership and purposeful – rather than extractive – financial activity.
Controversially deported from the UK in November 2018 just as the West is building walls to keep out the populations of the Global South, Kweku remains determined to share his lessons on culture, systems and political economy across the globe.