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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Rogue trader costs UBS $2bn

UBS says it has discovered a potential loss of $2 billion thanks to unauthorised trading by an employee at its investment bank.

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WTF - Is every trader an island?

So we all woke up this morning to find that UBS was reporting a $2 billion loss due to a ...wait for it ... 'rogue trader'.

Yes, mistakes happen. Yes, fraud, abuse and criminal activity happen. But young Kweku Adoboli, a 31-year old trader in UBS's London-based exchange traded funds business, is not sitting in police custody, currently, because he threw a brick through UBS' London office and stole some art work.

He's there because of a trade he (deliberately or accidently) conducted while working at his desk on the UBS trading floor. I'm assuming his terminal was turned on, phones were working, his chair was ergonomically adjusted, the overhead trading floor lights were gently glowing above his head...(do you see where I'm going with this?)

So...did the head trader read any overnight risk reports on Wednesday, or this week, this month...? Were the limits checking systems even turned on? Any risk managers walking around the trading floor at UBS in London this week - jumping up and down - yelling "Hear ye, hear ye! We have a trader over his limit!"

No? Yes? Not sure?

I, for one, am getting pretty tired of banks who claim up and down the houses how strict and robust their risk checking and risk management is (I'll take any one - market, credit ... reputational?) and then when one sunny Thursday morning, $2 billion down, blame the whole crap shoot on one lone 'rogue trader'.

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme commented that this incident will hurt UBS' reputation because as a private bank they mostly take care of 'rich people's money'. Yes, my heart bleeds. 


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Elizabeth Lumley

Elizabeth Lumley

Global FinTech Commentator

Girl, Disrupted

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05 Nov 2007



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