Kweku Adoboli Saga: The British Life, the World of Investment Banking and the idea of hostile environment for non-Brits. The perspective of an African Brit.- written by Julius Paddy

Convicted of Bank fraud, imprisoned and released, 38-year-old Kweku Adoboli was finally deported from Britain, a country he has lived in for 26 years, to Ghana, a country he last lived in when he was 4 years old. This ends a long-protracted appeal process to allow him to remain and continue living in the UK which is basically his home. He was in boarding school at Ackworth where he was a head boy, graduated at the University of Nottingham and ended up working at arguably the financial capital of Europe, central London. I would certainly contend that it doesn’t get any more British than that. In
the least,

I can say that this is not the life story of your typical Ghanaian young man.
Different people have different perspectives on him as an individual and they are entitled to their opinions. I do see this case from multiple perspectives, having spoken to several young people in Britain of African background, just like Kweku. Some say he is a scapegoat for the racist deportation policies in the UK. I do not think that anyone would argue that the colour of a person’s skin has no bearing on the immigration policy of Britain after we all saw what happened with the Windrush scandal. Others have also contended that he was the perfect scapegoat to throw in jail as a sign that the UK was willing to crackdown on fraudulent bankers especially after the 2008 financial collapse
which banks played a major role in. I use the word scapegoat because the banks that needed bailouts like RBS were savings banks unlike UBS which was at least at that time an investment bank.

Kweku did not siphon money for himself, he did however recklessly trade in an effort to make money for the Bank. In other words, UBS is a bank which ordinary folks do not even access to and the same practises by Kweku that lost the bank $2billion led them to eventually record an overall profit of over $3billion that same year. We therefore need to disabuse our minds off the fact that Adoboli defrauded taxpayers of the UK and he was rogue. He was not alone in this practise and UK taxpayer bore no responsibility for the money that he lost. It is largely agreed by almost everyone though that he is in
several ways, the architect of his own misfortune either advertent or inadvertently.
As a Ghanaian Brit around the same age as Kweku, my question has always been, what kind of friendship inner circle he had before his issue arose? Did he communicate with Ghanaians in Britain?
I can confidently say that many Ghanaians in Britain as soon as they are eligible for British citizenship will not hesitate to apply for it. They will do it even if they do not “feel British”. Citizenship is viewed by different people through different prisms although the ultimate aim is unfettered access to the UK. For some, it’s a feeling of national pride to be British, for others, it’s the security of being able to travel to and from the UK as they please. Yes, citizenship can be applied for, for convenience or even transactional reasons. I have no doubt that if he had Ghanaian friends in his social circle in Britain, he would have definitely been advised to apply and get a British passport when he was 18 at least for that security. As an Africans who is very familiar with the idea of “hostile environment” which is proudly proclaimed by Theresa May anytime she gleefully talks about borders,
I am reminded that, being British is not a lived cultural experience, as it should be. “Britishness” for us is either through blood or through an allegiance to the queen through naturalisation and it was incredibly naïve of Kweku, a Ghanaian, not to have recognised this reality. Ask any black person who was born and bred in Britain how many times they have encountered the question, “Where are you really from?”, I guarantee you that the white person asking this question is not expecting the answer
to be London. They ask, because subconsciously, they do not see you as equally British as they are.
This is why Kweku should have known that the only way to guarantee “Britishness” is by
naturalisation and even that, does not insulate you from the fact that many will always see him as a foreigner anyway. My point, Kweku saying that he feels British does not resonate with the right wing white Brits which the Home Office is desperately trying to please. Do you think that this statement is implying racism? Yes it is. Just go to the detention centre and tell me how many people there that are not people of colour.

Let us turn our attention to finance because this is where the story is. But before that, it is important to get some perspective before jumping on to lynch Kweku. Royal Bank of Scotland that actually has chequing accounts of ordinary workers had to be given tax payers money of £45.5 billion as a bailout.
It appears that the government will not get the money back according to the current chair of UBS, Sir Howard Davis. Interestingly enough, no one was arrested for causing financial loss to the state (that literally happened). UK taxpayers had to take a hit for this. Another interesting issue is LIBOR scandal which was basically the manipulation of interbank lending rates by a host of global financial institutions. These banks that does include UBS by the way have been implicated in manipulating interest rates for profit starting as far back as 2003 according to the council of foreign relations.
Again, no one was in jail for this heist. Before I start addressing Kweku Adoboli, how about HSBC knowingly laundering money for terrorists and drug cartels? Guess who was convicted. That’s right, no one.
Now that we have a fair idea of what multinational banks have been doing, let us turn our attention to Kweku Adoboli. No one is saying that this was not a crime, it clearly was and perhaps he deserves the jail time he got. But one of the things I noticed was how he was plastered all over the newspapers in UK in 2011 as some poster boy for out of control banking mal-practises in the UK. This is why I used the word “scapegoat”, Kweku did not siphon money to a private personal account, he did not pay himself a golden parachute, he did not launder money for terrorists or drug cartels, he did not manipulate interest rates and did not cause financial loss to the UK government. Other UK bankers
who were never prosecuted however did. As in Investment Banking, trading of commodities and currencies can obviously go wrong which is why he should have insured his bets. But then, what no one is willing to talk about is the reward associated with high risk (uninsured) betting in the financial markets. That is the modus operandi of these banks although that does not seem juicy for the corporate press of the UK as long as they have this none British Ghana guy they can crucify in public.
One of my questions has always been why investigators never scrutinised the practises of the entire UBS bank rather than just hauling two low level managers to court (Kweku Adoboli and Ron Greenidge both black men). Ron Greenidge was cleared and Kweku basically became the “rogue” trader. I guess they had to use the word rogue to sort of send a subliminal message that it is just the action of one individual rather than the modus operandi of the bank. Accused of not being apologetic by the judge when Kweku maintained that this was standard operating procedure in the trading world,
Kweku was convicted and sentenced. UBS did however make a profit that year despite Kweku losing $2billion. I guess his “rogue” behaviour barely hurt them.
Now, Kweku was deported a few days ago to Ghana as he never applied for a British passport. I remember when he came out of prison and stated that he wanted to help clean the banking industry.
My first reaction as an African was, “You are not even British, what makes you think you can clean up the mess at Central London”. As admirable as these aims are, Kweku and the people around him fundamentally misunderstand how things work in UK. Newsflash, the Financial institutions have become incredibly powerful and easily sway government decisions.

This is the reason why HSBC still operates despite laundering money for terrorists. This is also the reason why no high level manager went to jail at UBS. Does he really believe regulators do not know about money laundering and illegal trading practises in central London?. May be its unrelated but I think his idea of wanting to take on the banks were always going to hurt him than rather help him. The results, 130 MPs support him
remaining in the UK but the wheel him to Ghana like a common criminal anyway. The banks want to continue raking in profits and the last thing they want is a former insider with the passion to take them on.

These are the practises that have made them powerful. Kweku failed to recognise that
What do I think of the various schools of thoughts when it comes to the last 7 years of Mr Adoboli’s nightmare? Well, I am sure he will easily get a very decent banking job in Ghana. Was he made to be the fall guy for the bad reputation of British Banks? yes, without a doubt. Was the idea of a hostile environment for people like him so that he would feel uncomfortable in the UK racist? Obviously, it is.

Again, anyone can go to that detention centre and count the number of people there that look Caucasian. Did he make a massive mistake not applying to be British after his education? Clearly because he could not have been deported if he did. Finally, why is he being deported when he is clearly no danger to anyone? Two reasons, the Home Office is appealing to a right wing base by removing as many people as possible, mostly none-white and of course there is this little issue of him being a former banking insider

This is an epitome of the power of the big Financial institutions and what they can get away with as much as it is, the naïveté of an African young who had the privilege of getting a great education and life in the UK only to lose it all after trying to make money for the Bank he worked for. Loose taxpayers money and there is no consequence like RBS, fund terrorist or drug cartels and you will just be fined a fraction of your profits like HSBC, fix international interest rates and all you receive is afine. However, dare to lose Banks money through a risky bet and you will be undone just like Adoboli
was. Plastered in the newspapers, painted as the worst thing that happened to Britain and removed from the country you culturally identify with.
My advice to all Africans in Britain, if you are eligible for naturalisation, advise yourself. With Adoboli, they have an excuse, with Hilary Ineomo-Marcus another person who grew up in Britain being considered for deportation, they have another excuse. I will not put it past the Home Office to start removing none citizens for parking fines and traffic violations. Citizenship is the only way you guarantee that you do not get removed. My teacher in Ghana once said, “A word to the wise , …..”

WRITTEN BY Julius Paddy: Political Junky and a cultural critic. Interests in Pan- Africanism and socio-economic realities.


Julius Owusu-Paddy


Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez is an International Award Winner, Published Author & Poet, Broadcast Journalist, MC and Youth Empowerment Consultant . He is also The CEO of AFRICA4U and The Founder of Africans in The Diaspora People also see him as a Cultural and Social entrepreneur, which means he is skilled in working with many different communities, bringing people together in successful focused events. Tony has organised many cultural events …involving both BME and mainstream communities. He is skilled in hosting events that reinforce community cohesion and bringing different kinds of people together. He has organised events in The UK, The U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Romania, Malta and Nigeria and has visited over 22 European Countries. Tony has also organised The Black History Month Celebrations at The UK House of Parliament for over five years in a row He continues to promote the true life and success stories of Africans in Europe and Africans around the world and has organised several small scale literary and awards initiatives aimed at empowering young people. He has also spent time as an International broadcaster and was The Producer and Presenter for AFRICA4U International Radio Talk Show at Reading4u Radio Station for nearly three years. Tony has interviewed high profile Members of Parliament, Distinguished celebrities and some of Africas best musicians including Ivonne Chaka Chaka and Kanda Bongoman. He has also been a guest on BBC Radio on numerous occasions to discuss the community cohesion events he organises at UK House of Parliament and also to recite some of his published work in memory of Nelson Mandela, 50 Years Anniversary of The race relations act and major community issues. Tony has also a Guest on popular Radio stations in Nigeria and The States In the last few years he has been very passionate about Youth empowerment, community cohesion and cultural intelligence. Tony was born in South London and has lived in several parts of England and Nigeria . He started writing at the tender age of nine, a habit he expressed with creative enthusiasm. Tony writes Poetry, short stories and proverbs on personal development. He is currently working on his 4th book which will also be his first novel. He is also into Public Speaking at Special events and Social functions and is a Mentor for young people in the UK Community. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Lagos, Nigeria in English and World Literature. He later went on to attain a teaching qualification at The Frances King International Training Institute, South Kensington London, it was here he studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He also studied Web Design at The City University in London. He published his first book in June 1999 called “The Beauty in the Dark” (A Collection of Poetry which received critical acclamation in many circles around the world). .Tony’s aim in life is to inspire the young generation and to encourage the youth to make the very best of their dreams and aspirations,. He published a 2nd book in June 2009 called ” The Sound of Running Water” – A Family gift book of proverbs and quotations on Personal Development and Positive Thinking . In December 2009, he published his 3rd book called “One Moment of Peace”.- A collection of Poetry inspired by personal experiences and spiritual growth. Besides the fact that the Artist has won International online awards, he is mostly inspired by Life experience, love, music and cultural awareness. He was Resident Poet at the 5th London Poetry Festival in 2009 and has been a guest on BBC Radio on very many occassions including The famous Anne Diamond Show. He has also been a guest on a few SKY TV stations and several International Radio Stations around The World
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Kweku Adoboli Saga: The British Life, the World of Investment Banking and the idea of hostile environment for non-Brits. The perspective of an African Brit.- written by Julius Paddy

  1. Loved reading this post. I also learnt that Kweku headed a team. That had in the previous year made massive profit using the same trading methods. So the loss was not just him alone sitting in a corner clicking some button he went down as a captain of the ship. Falsly assuming like most Africans who have really experienced racism that he would be treated like anyone else.

  2. Pingback: A True Prisoner’s Dilemma

  3. This piece by Julius Paddy is succinct and straight to the core of racism in UK. Allowing the poor African boy to take fall for the financial world evil ways amd quickly ship him to Africa lest he expose the numerous criminality in the financial sector of the UK economy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s