Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kweku Adoboli's Ass is Grass

Quick! Do you have any idea who Kweku Adoboli is? Probably not off the top of your head. He isn't in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and he doesn't work for AOL or AIG or AARP. If you're the average working Joe or Jane in the United States, chances are good he has never ever been a blip on your radar. And, given the demographics of my readers, this may well be the first and last time you ever read his name. 
          Go on, guess who he is. Yes, he's African. Brilliant deduction by the way, given his distinctive moniker. But no, he's not the dictator of a yet to be named country. Or a guerilla chieftain responsible for millions murdered in the genocides of Darfur, Somalia or Rwanda. Nor is he a Nobel Laureate for medicine or physics or a delegate to the UN. Although his father once was. 
          Let's face it, unless you are the former CEO of UBS and you just submitted your resignation because of Mr. Adoboli, you probably haven't got a clue. But Kweku Adoboli may be the reason you're also out of a job in the not too distant future. His fraudulent manipulation of ETF's as a senior trader on the Delta One desk of UBS may be the reason you can't afford to send your kids to the colleges of their choice. He may be the reason you have to keep your car for an extra five years, the reason you no longer vacation out of the country, and the main reason your re-financed house loses even more of its value. In a round about way, a few years from now, he may even be the reason your marriage comes crashing down. 
          Kweku Adoboli might be the straw that broke the camel's bank in Europe this week. He may be the reason the world stands on the precipice of recession again. Depending on your investments, he may be why your retirement is now on hold. Or he may just be a scapegoat. No one expects you to connect the dots. I'm sure they hope you won't. After all, he was only playing with company money and there's still some left. Besides, no clients were harmed in the perpetration of this fraud. If you believe UBS.   
          In the 24/7 365 day world of global trading, the London-based Kweku [Kwek to his friends?], a 31-year-old native of Ghana, went rogue, as they say, costing UBS -- the huge Swiss bank with the increasingly ironic advertising slogan, "We Will Not Rest" -- a whopping 2.3 billion dollars in losses. The fact that he was able to hide his fiduciary chicanery [i.e., unauthorized trades and losses] from as far back as 2008 through this year, does not bode well for the world in general, and the survival of his bank in particular. I hate to say it, but I'm rooting for Kweku to take UBS down with him. The CEO already stepped down. And a couple of Kweku's co-workers have quietly exited. I so hope that the rest of the bank isn't too far behind. A girl can dream, can't she?
          My favorite quote about this debacle is from a WSJ article -- "The losses raised questions among industry executives about supervision at the bank, as well as the ability of regulators to police such activity.
          I think those questions have been asked and answered. And not for the first time.

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