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'Rogue trader Kweku had his punishment, don't deport him'

PUNISHED: Convicted city trader Kweku Adoboli

POLITICS, FINANCE and media. Three great careers, three mainly white professions and home to the three Great British Scandals (kind of like Bake Off but with less bunting) of recent times.

But look closely at these scandals and something fascinating has quietly occurred: in worlds populated by the white and privileged with barely a black face in sight (and where even in the face of rampant criminality barely anyone went to prison) it’s interesting to note the number of black people who were either jailed or received suspended sentences in their aftermath.

That’s right: in an almost all-white sea of overlooked criminality and shenanigans somehow, someway black people managed to find themselves in the clink and facing ruin upon release. Lord Taylor of Warwick went down for fiddling his expenses; Anthony French received a suspended sentence for his involvement in the News Corporation scandal and Kweku Adoboli had iron bars slammed in his face for financial crimes at UBS.

Lord Taylor is back on the council estate and Anthony French now lives with his mum and has had to crowd source his legal fees. But such hardships pale in comparison to the fate of Kweku Adoboli, who is currently fighting for his right to remain in the UK.

When Adoboli was on the verge of being released something quite strange was reported in the papers in passing: he had served part of his prison sentence in an immigration detention centre. At first I didn’t realise the significance of this piece of information. But then it emerged this weekend that Adoboli is fighting not to be deported to Ghana, a country he left at the ripe old age of four. He has lived in Britain for the last 24 years.

Unwisely, as it turns out, Adoboli never applied for British citizenship when the going was good. And so, under the relevant rules, because he was sentenced to more than four years in prison, he is now eligible for deportation. An eligibility the Home Office show all indications of pursuing with gusto. As a result he can’t work and he can’t study. All he can do is attempt to appeal the case and hope the heavens smile on him.

Adoboli has paid for his crime; he demonstrated atonement from the very beginning. He was not a violent criminal; quite the contrary, he was a quiet man in a career with significant psychological oddities that are often unaccounted for (the amount of money people in his position deal with day to day can be mind-bending). He took the rap for corporate control failings and ethical lapses. He was a model prisoner and was released early as a result. He is clearly well mannered, articulate, bright and, once, would have been considered an asset to his company and (what he may have mistakenly thought was) his country.

Adoboli could have been anything he wanted to be: an MP, a CEO, an ordained minister.
But now he has lost it all and faces deportation in ruin to a place he barely knows. As great a country as Ghana is, all Britons of Ghanaian descent would agree that it is a lot greater when you have money in your pocket, friends near-by and the ability to leave.

AMENDS

“All I want to do is the right thing to make amends for my failings, to build a path of certainty for the future, to help others learn from what I was asked to go away and learn,” he said. “It seems fair that every man should have the opportunity for redemption, to learn from his mistakes and to go home to his family, whoever he deems that family to be.”

The rules might be the rules, but Adoboli deserves a shot at redemption.

The system that to a certain extent created him, or at least created a welcome environment for his crimes, now seeks to spit him back out and far enough away that there’s no danger of messing up their shoes in the process. Meanwhile, financial criminality on a grand scale has gone unprosecuted, unpunished and even unnoticed on both sides of the Atlantic.

If we want to properly address Adoboli’s crimes we need to look at the system itself, which continues to operate with less than effective regulation and oversight, not divert resources into trying to get one man sent back to his country of origin.

But Adoboli represents an embarrassing reminder of what went wrong and one it would be convenient for everyone to ensure is a very long way away.

I, for one, am interested in his story, and support his bid to remain in the UK.

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