June 8, 2012 / 1:10 PM / 5 years ago

UBS "rogue trader" granted bail in London court

UBS trader Kweku Adoboli leaves City of London magistrates' court in the City of London October 20, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - A London court granted bail on Friday to Kweku Adoboli, a former UBS trader accused of unauthorised deals that cost the Swiss bank $2.3 billion in one of the most high-profile cases of so-called “rogue trading” since the 2008 financial crisis.

Adoboli, who denies charges of fraud and false accounting, was arrested last September when the huge loss came to light.

The British-educated Ghanaian was present during Friday’s bail application at Southwark Crown Court, which was heard behind closed doors to protect the privacy of a group of friends and relatives who offered sureties to help secure bail.

An earlier application for bail was rejected in February and Adoboli has been held at Wandsworth Prison in southwest London.

“He is delighted, hugely grateful to the judge and to his friends and family. It was a very emotional scene,” lawyer Tim Harris, who is acting for Adoboli, told reporters after the hearing.

Adoboli did not immediately walk free because various administrative steps had to be taken first. Harris said he expected Adoboli to be released early next week.

As part of his bail conditions, the ex-trader who used to live in a $1,500-a-week apartment near UBS’s London office will have to live at a friend’s house under curfew and will be tagged. The amount of sureties offered was not disclosed.

A further pre-trial hearing is scheduled for late July and the trial itself is expected to start on September 3.

The stakes are high for Adoboli, who faces a jail sentence of up to 10 years if convicted, but they are also high for UBS, which will face searching questions about its management.

CHAT ROOMS

The Adoboli case forced the Swiss bank into a management shake-up culminating in the departure of its chief executive, Oswald Gruebel. Several top equities bankers have also left and the bank’s chief risk officer has been replaced.

UBS has blamed the huge loss on an unauthorised trading incident, but Adoboli’s defence team is expected to argue that others on the trading desk where he worked had been doing similar things and managers knew about it.

Earlier on Friday, before the court went into closed session, lawyers discussed details of data held by UBS, police and prosecutors and which Adoboli’s legal team want to see. The discussion gave a flavour of the arguments likely to arise at trial.

Among the items that the defence team wanted to obtain were transcripts of group discussions among Adoboli and some of his colleagues that took place on electronic chat rooms used by many people in financial services.

They also wanted files held by UBS’s human resources department on Adoboli and on some of his former colleagues, as well as transcripts of police interviews with three ex-traders from his team who have since been dismissed from UBS.

Wearing a grey suit and sports shoes, Adoboli sat taking notes and occasionally conferring with lawyers through the thick glass of the dock at the back of the courtroom.

His defence counsel, Charles Sherrard, and prosecuting lawyer Esther Schutzer-Weissman were able to agree on what documents should be handed over to Adoboli’s legal team. Judge Brian Keith approved the agreement and will issue the relevant orders for the material to be handed over well before the trial.

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