LONDON (Reuters) - A former UBS UBSN.VX trader accused of carrying out a $2.3 billion “rogue trading” fraud that rocked the Swiss bank was given more time on Tuesday to consider his plea after changing his legal team.
Lawyers for Kweku Adoboli, 31, who worked as a director of exchange traded funds, said he was unable to enter a “proper and meaningful” plea because he was unhappy with the guidance he had received from a defense team that he dropped last week.
Adoboli was sent back to spend Christmas in jail before another hearing on January 30 when he must enter a plea over two charges of fraud and two of false accounting.
“I am certainly not satisfied that he has received adequate legal advice,” new defense lawyer Paul Garlick told the court, adding that Adoboli would plead not guilty, if pressed by the court to make an early decision.
Judge Alistair McCreath adjourned the case to January 30 and said he would not accept any further delays. “This is it. The case will go ahead on that day whatever (happens).”
Adoboli, wearing a charcoal suit, white shirt and dark tie, showed little emotion during the 30-minute hearing. He stared frequently at the floor of the glass and wood paneled dock of Court One in the modernist court complex overlooking the River Thames.
He spoke only to confirm his name at the start and to reply “yes, sir” at the end when asked by the judge if he had understood the proceedings. Security guards led him out of the dock and back into custody, where he has been since his arrest in London on September 15.
Former UBS chief executive Oswald Gruebel resigned in September and several other senior figures have lost their jobs after Adoboli was charged with one of the biggest ever cases of alleged unauthorized dealing.
UBS said the alleged rogue trades cost it around $2.3 billion and took place between October 2008 and December 2010.
Adoboli, the British-educated son of a retired United Nations official from Ghana, was arrested in London on September 15 and charged a day later.
At a previous hearing, his former lawyer said Adoboli was “appalled at the scale of the consequences of his disastrous miscalculations.”
Prosecuting lawyer Robert Davies opposed the latest delay, saying: “He clearly understands what the allegations are. The case in fact is quite straightforward.”
A not guilty plea next month would pave the way for a full trial that would expose the Swiss bank’s operations to further scrutiny as it tries to rebuild its reputation.
New boss Sergio Ermotti said last month the bank would cut its risky assets by almost half and concentrate on managing wealthy clients’ money.
Editing by Mark Potter and David Cowell