So it’s finally done! Kweku Adoboli has, according to today’s Financial Times, been deported to Ghana. Who will rejoice?
My aim is not to discuss the rights or wrongs of his conviction or sentence to 7 years, of which he served the standard 3.5, except to say that I do not know how anyone could manage to lose $3.5bn before his employers found out! This is not the only case, of course, where a scapegoat has been found to pay for the incompetence, idleness or illegal acts of senior bankers and their regulators. The cases of Jérôme Kerviel in France and Nick Leeson also spring to mind. But it is one that has led to what can only be described as revenge deportation.
The fact that he has lived in the UK since he was 12, was educated here and managed to get to a position where he was able to lose this amount of money, is one facet of this case which underlines his ability. What troubles me, however, is that his sentence was severe and supposedly designed to fit the crime. His deportation, therefore, is yet another UK example of someone being punished twice for the same crime as, of course, we do with confiscation orders, of which I will write later.
But it is astounding that we are prepared to turn an asset into a liability without even a second thought for the taxpayer, while chasing around trying to convict more and more people of dubious crimes and giving them longer and longer sentences. The cost to the state of his deportation must have run into millions, and yet this is a man who would have been capable of repaying huge sums back to the treasury in taxes had he been given half a chance. Now we have sent him to pay his taxes in another country when we have borne the cost of his trial, incarceration and extradition hearings. Maybe somone could explain the logic in our judicial syustem, apart from the fact the he happens to be black and of African origin and therefore merits extra punishment.
Let me explain the moral and judicial dilemma through a thought experiment. Let us suppose that a white British banker had been convicted of exactly the same offence with him. They would both get seven years, one would presume, but, in addition this guy gets deported at the end of his sentence. Is that even-handed justice?
On the topic of confiscation, let us suppose that they are both white and British. One has been careful and invested his annual bonuses (that’s all they stood to gain, in fact – the billions that are mentioned by the prosecution are what the banks lose or win) in property or on the stock market. The other has frittered his money away on drugs, gambling and prostitution. The first will have all his money confiscated, probably even that which was earned legitimately. The second will lose nothing. Is that what the general public think of as fair or does revenge always trump justice?