ETHICS: Kweku at UBS

Kolade Adetoro Written by Kolade Adetoro · 2 min read >

During the week, we reviewed in business ethics the responsibility towards the shareholders in an organization and reviewed a case about Kweku Adeboli at Union Bank of Switzerland. This case pointed out what is expected of the employees in an organization, importance of a structured work environment and being over ambitious.

Firstly, I would like to give a short brief about Union Bank of Switzerland. This is a financial institution that has been existing for over 150 years. It was born from merging various banks and thus this made the company a strong force to reckon with in the industry. Some of their services includes: wealth management, asset management and investment banking services to private and corporate individuals in over 50 countries worldwide.

Secondly, a brief background on our person of interest Kweku Adeboli. He was a Ghanaian born into a notable family. His father was working with the United Nations at a time and this took his family to United Kingdom (UK). While in the UK he attended one of the best schools the where he performed really good in his academics. He then further proceeded to the university and had his internship in UBS. Due to his exceptional performance during his internship, he was retained shortly after his graduation.

When our guy Kweku got to UBS, he performed exceptionally well in his duties and soon became a director in a very short time which of course came with huge financial benefits. The company encouraged their employees to worker harder to yield more profit for the organization and did not pay attention to means by which the staff brought in returns. Kweku as a sharp person noticed this lapse and capitalized on it. He broke several rules by taking unethical steps to get his job done and always found a way to cover his shortcomings. Since no one was watching, it went on for years. After sometime, he started making huge losses (running into billions of dollars) and could no longer cover up. It was at this point the management became aware of the illicit act that had been occurring for years. This of course cost him his job and he also went to jail for about four years.

Some of the lessons I learnt from this case include: 

  1. Be content with whatever one has: This is because being over ambitious would go negative sometimes and you  do things you should not.
  2. Structures guide our actions: Laws should be put in place and enforced otherwise there would be no standards to keep up with.
  3. Everyone should be accountable: no matter how exceptionally well anyone is performing, they should be answerable to the structures and laws of the company and not do things at their will.

It is important for us to always consider the consequences of every action we take as most time it affects not just us but the people around us. Due to the actions of Kweku, some of the resulting effects were;

  1. Brand reputation was damaged: A company that has been operating for more than a century is definitely one that is trusted by all. Therefore, having to report to the public a 2 billion dollars scam made their customers questions their efficiency.
  2. Loss of resources: Kweku’s scam resulted to a huge financial loss which would definitely disrupt UBS operations
  3. Many employees lost their job after this incident as the company had to cut their cost.
  4. Kweku killed his career with his hands and also put a dent on his family’s name.

We should look beyond instant benefits that may come from taking unethical decisions but rather think long term and what we stand to gain by living right.

Written by Kolade Adetoro
I find writing therapeutic . Profile

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