I mentioned earlier Kweku Adoboli’s recent podcast interview with Lindsay Fortado of the FT, and listening to it has convinced me that, though his career as a trader may be over, perhaps he has a future in music promotion.
Let me explain.
Adoboli is the UBS rogue trader who was brought up on criminal charges in the UK stemming from unauthorized trading that first came to light in September 2011. He served about four years in prison and was recently released.
Adoboli was a trader on UBS’s four person ETF desk. According to Adoboli, he began off-books trading in 2008 using an account nicknamed “umbrella,” which he used as a slush fund to hide profits until he needed them to cover a loss on some later, rainier, day. As I’ve discussed, such smoothing of profits and losses is a common element in other recent rogue trading cases, including Jerome Kerviel at Société Générale.
As I said at the time:
The umbrella account is the one element of the case that has finally convinced me of the possibility of an Adoboli made-for-television movie (note to networks: I’m willing to consult on the cheap in exchange for hobnobbing with movie stars . . . or just for free lodging). I think that we’re due for another rogue trading movie. Though Nick Leeson got a real (not TV) movie out of his ordeal — starring Ewan McGregor, no less — it was a real dud, which hasn’t prevented me from showing it in class about a dozen times.
The umbrella account turned out to be an important element of Adoboli’s defense. Adoboli’s lawyer, Charles Sherrard argued that all three ETF desk traders, including Adoboli’s supervisor, John Hughes, knew about the umbrella account. Sherrard introduced numerous email and chat communications referencing Adoboli’s “umbrella,” “Rhianna,” and “ella ella,” in an attempt to establish that Adoboli, far from being a rogue agent, was part of a collaborative scheme in which other bank employees (again, including his direct supervisor) acquiesced.
Fortado asks Adoboli about the account in the podcast (“you had an internal fund that you created for the ETF desk, called the ‘umbrella’ or ‘Rihanna’ which was discussed at trial”) and Adoboli repeats his position that others (“many others”) at UBS knew about the trading scheme and either approved, directly participated, or turned a blind eye to it, because it was profitable.
Adoboli is the only rogue trader that ever gave me an excuse to show part of a Rihanna video at an international conference.
And now, he’s provided another music recommendation. At the end of the podcast, Fortado tells Adoboli that she knows he loves music and asks whether there is a song that is indicative of the way that he felt during the ordeal. His new theme song? Caught in the Hustle, by Immortal Technique:
So if I should ever fall and get caught in a hustle
Let them know that I died while I fought in a struggle
From the hoodrats to the rich kids lost in a bubble
Spray painting on the streets and at the subway tunnels
Write it down and remember that we never gave in
The mind of a child is where the revolution begins
So if the solution has never been to look in yourself
How is it that you expect to find it anywhere else
Well, there’s that then.
I have some thoughts on the interview itself, which I’ll try to return with, schedule permitting.
Kweku Adoboli Speaks!
Ella . . . Ella
AMV Seminario De Control Interno Y Compliance: Bogotá, Colombia
Kweku Adoboli Trial Began Today
The Rogue Trading KISS
When $61bn Seemed Like Real Money
Denial: It Ain’t Just A River In Egypt
It’s The Stupid Culture
It’s The Culture, Stupid
Kerviel’s Fake Trades: Genius Or Copy Cat?
Kerviel’s Fake Trades: The Anatomy of A Cover-Up
On Warning Signs II: Follow The Money
On Warning Signs: You Can’t Get There From Here
Rogues Versus Scapegoats
Kerviel Trial Opens to Fanfare
Société Générale: Back In The Saddle Again
Jérôme Kerviel to Société Générale: Stand By Your Man