Kweku Adoboli, the former UBS trader convicted of fraud over a £1.4bn unauthorised trading loss, has been deported from the UK to his native Ghana after losing a legal fight with the Home Office.
The 38-year-old, who has lived in the UK since he was 12, was taken to London Heathrow airport on Wednesday in order to remove him from the country. His girlfriend, Alice Gray, said he was scheduled to depart on a Kenya Airways flight en route to Accra, where he would arrive on Thursday. He was not told which flight he was to be on until just before he was due to board the flight, and he had been instructed to keep his mobile phone turned off, she said.
Mr Adoboli left Ghana when he was four years old, spending eight years living in the Middle East with his father, who worked for the United Nations, before moving to Yorkshire to attend a Quaker boarding school. He has been fighting the Home Office for the right to stay in Scotland, where he has lived with his friends and godchildren since his release from prison in 2015 after serving half his original seven-year sentence.
“He’s being used to send a message, and it’s a racist message,” said Ms Gray, his girlfriend. “We might not be able to cancel the flight right now, but our legal avenues haven’t ended and we will continue to fight to bring him back,” she added.
Mr Adoboli could not immediately be reached for comment because his phone had been switched off. “Being banished from your friends, family, community, country and the west is by far the worst punishment that can be enforced upon someone,” he told the Financial Times in August.
“I fear it is something that nobody can ever truly recover from.” Supporters including politicians from the Labour party had rallied to support Mr Adoboli’s bid to stay in the country, arguing that he was a non-violent offender at a low risk of committing any further crimes; he had worked hard to rehabilitate himself by speaking regularly about what happened at UBS and how to prevent further rule breaches in banking; he had already served his time and did not deserve to be punished twice; and he was essentially British. Before Mr Adoboli’s conviction, he had permanent residence status in the UK, but his privileges were revoked as part of his sentence.
He has never applied for citizenship. Under British law, foreign nationals who are sentenced to longer than four years in prison are automatically subject to deportation unless they can argue there are compelling reasons to allow them to stay in the country. “As a civilised country, what’s happening to Kweku right now is barbaric,” said Ms Gray.
“We will make sure that there is an amendment created that protects people who have been born in the UK that may not have a passport for some reason, or have grown up in the country since childhood, that they can’t be deported.”