The front page headline on today's Wall Street Journal (September 16, 2011) reads UBS: Rogue Trader Hits Firm: Swiss Bans Says it Lost $ 2 Billion on London Employee's Unauthorized Bets.
On the front page we see the rogue in question, Kweku Adoboli who is alleged to have lost $2 billion of the bank's money all by himself. I have to admit in looking at him the first thing that came to my mind is that he's black. I can't help it, I mean really isn't this a kind of milestone when a brother loses this kind of money? On page A8, 5 of the top well-known scandals of rogue traders is listed and Mr. Adoboli ranks third in terms of the dollar amount of the group.
Mr. Adoboli is actually from Ghana and he joined UBS two months after graduating, with honors, from the University of Nottingham, with a bachelor's degree in e-commerce and digital business, a spokesman at the university said.
He also looks like a very nice guy for that matter. But hasn't a brother arrived when he is in a position to lose $2 billion dollars?! I mean even though he failed, the failure is on such a large scale it's impressive he was even in such a position. I mean it would be nice to say I had 2 billion dollars to lose. In an update Mr. Adoboli has just confessed and has been charged.
The other guys listed: Yasuo Hamanaka who in 1996 at Sumitomo Corp. attempted to corner the market for the metal and spent billions-final total: $2.6 billion-to boost its price, earning himself the alias, Mr. Copper, and a 8 year prison term.
Then there's Toshihide Iguchi who racked up $1.1 billion in losses at Daiwa bank in 1995 in unauthorized bond trading which resulted in the bank being expelled from the U.S. So two Japanese guys at 2 different parts of the world are in the Top 5.
There's Nick Leeson who, while a Singapore futures trader at Barings Bank, ran up a loss of $1.3 billion in trades, and at the tender age of 28 was jailed. These trades would topple Barings, one of Britain's oldest merchant banks. Again he may have gone down in flames but with a very impressive bang.
Finally though we have Jerome Kerviel, who I have saved for last for a few reasons. One is that his was by far the largest losses of this illustrious group at $7.16 billion while a Futures trader at France's finest, Societe Generale. He devised a series of fake transactions to hide unauthorized trades that resulted in the enormous losses. partly I must admit is his face in part the gets me. He just looks the part!
I mean c'mon! He is the real life Gordon Gekko! Would I buy a used car from this man? No, but if I wanted to execute a major inside trade he's the guy I'd want on my speed dial.