Fraud trial jury for former UBS trader selected
LONDON (Reuters) - A British judge selected jurors on Monday for the trial of ex-UBS trader Kweku Adoboli and told them to ignore media coverage of the high-profile case, which stems from $2.3 billion in losses the Swiss bank blamed on unauthorized trades.
Adoboli, 32, was in the dock all day while judge Brian Keith dealt with jury selection and a series of procedural details. The trial proper will start on Friday, when prosecutor Sasha Wass will spend a day outlining the case against him.
The British-educated Ghanaian, who used to work on a trading desk within the investment banking arm of UBS in London, was arrested on September 15, 2011 and freed on bail nine months later. He denies two charges of fraud and two of false accounting.
The huge losses at issue in Adoboli's case were a serious blow for UBS when it was trying to recover from near collapse during the financial crisis in 2008. In the aftermath, the bank made major changes in staff and strategy.
Dressed in a grey suit and red tie, Adoboli sat behind a glass screen at the back of the courtroom during Monday's proceedings at Southwark Crown Court, in central London. He spoke only to confirm his identity.
The judge selected 12 jurors and four back-up jurors who will be kept on stand-by for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last eight weeks.
"It is very important that you keep an open mind," Keith told the jurors, instructing them not to discuss details of the case with friends or relatives.
"That is particularly so in a case like this, which is likely to attract some publicity," he said, telling them not to read newspaper articles or watch television reports concerning the case or to do any research about it on the Internet.
Keith reminded the jurors that in several well-publicized cases, trials had collapsed at considerable taxpayer expense and jurors had been sent to prison after discussing cases online.
Under British law, there are strict restrictions on what media can report about a jury trial to avoid prejudicing jurors but a wealth of material dating back to a year ago, when the case first came to light, is available online.
If convicted, Adoboli, the son of a retired United Nations diplomat, faces a possible 10-year jail sentence.
Potential jurors were asked whether they had worked for UBS, had dealings with it or owned shares in it, or whether they had any close friends or relatives to whom any of that applied. They were also read a list of seven principal witnesses to ensure that they were not personally connected to them in any way.
The first witness, expected to be a financial expert who will explain to jurors what Adoboli's work consisted of, will be called on Monday.
At the time of the alleged offences, the defendant was working on the Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) desk, part of the equities business within the UBS investment bank.
ETFs are so-called Delta One products, derivatives that closely track underlying securities and give holders exposure to markets that are hard to access or are illiquid.
Judge Keith warned jurors that they may find some of the material in the complex case hard to digest but assured them they would come to grips with it as the trial proceeded.
"At the beginning you are going to feel that you are suffering from information overload," he told them, adding that "this case is not a memory test".
(Writing by Estelle Shirbon and Michael Holden; Editing by Michael Roddy)
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