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Swiss banking giant UBS falls victim to a new Kerviel?

Translated Sunday 18 September 2011, by Jayne McKenzie and reviewed by Bill Scoble

A 31-year old man was arrested on Wednesday night in London, suspected of involvement in the large-scale fraud suffered by Swiss bank UBS through the activity of one of its traders.

The Swiss banking giant, which has several thousands of employees in its City of London offices, revealed in a very brief statement on Thursday that the fraudulent transactions carried out by one of its traders could mean a loss of up to two billion dollars and could push its 2011 third-quarter accounts into the red. According to the statement, “UBS has discovered a loss due to unauthorized trading by a trader in its investment bank”. An enquiry is underway, but UBS estimates that “the loss could reach two billion dollars”. The bank is clear that “no client positions were affected” by the incident. UBS shares lost more than 8% on the Zurich stock exchange.

This incident brings back the Jérôme Kerviel incident in France, 2008, at the bank Société Générale. The unauthorized trading by this trader, who has since been fired, lost the French bank 4.9 billion euros. Kerviel was condemned to five years in prison, two of which were suspended, and was ordered to reimburse the 4.9 billion euros to his former employer.

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