rogue gladiators

For Closing Argument, UBS Rogue Trader Breaks Out the Old ‘I’m a Thracian Slave’ Defense

1960 --- Kirk Douglas in Spartacus --- Image by ? CinemaPhoto/Corbis
Photo: Corbis and Oli Scarff/Getty

It’s been a tough few weeks for Kweku Adoboli, the 32-year-old former UBS trader who allegedly caused a $2.3 billion loss at the Swiss bank over the course of three years of unauthorized trading.

During Adoboli’s fraud trial, the prosecution has accused him of being “arrogant,” of “playing God” with his risky trades, and of acting like an “accomplished liar” by hiding the losses for so long. Then private conversations with his girlfriend were splashed all over the papers, which is never a good thing.

But in closing arguments before a London jury, Team Kweku found its stride, courtesy of a little Roman mythology about a humble Thracian slave named Spartacus.

According to DealBook:

In his closing remarks to the jury, Charles Sherrard said Mr. Adoboli was like Spartacus, who was portrayed by Kirk Douglas [in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick movie], because he stepped forward to take the blame. But unlike in the movie, where Spartacus’s fellow gladiators all claimed to be Spartacus to avoid him being singled out for punishment, Mr. Adoboli’s team members were just too happy for him to take responsibility.

Mr. Adoboli stands up and says ‘I am Spartacus’ and the other three stand up and said ‘yes, that’s him!’, Mr. Sherrard told the jury in a London courtroom.

If this works and the jury returns with a not-guilty verdict, it will be the greatest gambit in the history of the white-collar bar. If it doesn’t … well, at least Charles Sherrard will have good options for a thematically appropriate send-off for his client. May we suggest:

Spartacus: “Just by fighting them, we won something. When just one man says, ‘No, I won’t,’ Rome begins to fear. And we were tens of thousands who said no. That was the wonder of it. To have seen slaves lift their heads from the dust, to see them rise from their knees, stand tall, with a song on their lips.”

UBS Rogue Trader’s Spartacus Defense