UBS Compliance Officer Receives Three Year Prison Sentence for Insider Trading

Published On July 1, 2019

A former UBS compliance officer has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of insider trading. 

Fabiana Abdel-Malek had been employed by UBS as a senior compliance officer and passed information gained from her position to a family friend who then amassed a profit of around £1.4m from subsequent trading. In particular, Abdel-Malek passed information to Walid Choucair, her family friend who was an experienced day-trader, who also received a three-year sentence. 

The pair were found to have used pay-as-you-go mobile telephones and disposable SIM cards to share the insider information. 

In sentencing, Judge Joanna Korner commented that Abdel-Malek was a “game keeper, using the knowledge [she] had gained from [her] employment to become an efficient and accomplished poacher.” Of Mr Choucair, she said “your motive was greed.” The judge further pointed out that she was handing down the sentence as a means of deterrence, so that others would understand the severity of the actions:

“In these cases there has to be an element of deterrence, it is vital that these kind of offences are deterred by the knowledge that if they are committed and you are convicted, there is an inevitable sentence of imprisonment…”

Abdel-Malek’s role at UBS entrusted her with access to sensitive information about potential mergers and acquisitions held within UBS on its compliance system. She had then searched that system to access insider information on a number of transactions, over a sustained period of time. 

The sentencing comes only months after a speech by director of market oversight at the UK’s FCA, Julia Hoggett, in which she pointed out that “trader behaviour …is not the only place where behavioural risk exists”. In the same speech, she highlighted that FCA is expecting firms to monitor a variety of people, “from cleaning staff to your head of compliance”, adding that companies should move away from the assumption that “if someone legitimately has access to information, they will always act legitimately with that information.” You can read Radar’s full coverage of that speech, with additional industry insight, here.