Naked gambling by UBS trader Kweku Adoboli nearly brought down the Swiss bank as he wagered up to €9bn, cooked the books and lied to bosses, a London court heard.
Adoboli, the 32-year-old son of a UN diplomat from Ghana, is on trial accused of fraud and false accounting that in the end cost UBS €1.75bn. He has pleaded not guilty.
"He was a gamble or two away from destroying Switzerland's largest bank for his own benefit," counsel Sasha Wass told the jury. "In effect, Mr Adoboli was betting the entire bank on the toss of a coin," she said, describing the defendant as "a greedy banker, out of control and out for himself".
Losses in the double-digit billions could have been fatal to UBS at a time when it was trying to recover from previous colossal losses during the 2008 financial crisis, when the Swiss government had to step in to rescue it.
Ms Wass said Adoboli's motives were to increase his annual bonus, his status within the bank, his job prospects and his ego. She said his fraudulent deals had wiped about €3.4bn, off the bank's share price.
"Like most gamblers, he believed he had the magic touch. Like most gamblers, when he lost, he caused chaos and disaster to himself and to all of those around him," Ms Wass told the jury.
"In effect, Mr Adoboli had ceased to act as a professional investment banker and had begun to approach his work as a naked gambler. He had become what is sometimes referred to as a rogue trader."
The court heard that Adoboli was educated at a British private school.
He moved to a front-office role as a trader in 2005 and nine months later was promoted to the exchange traded funds desk, where he worked until his career abruptly ended with his arrest on September 15, 2011.