Andrew Wiles
Sir Andrew Wiles is famous for proving Fermat's Last Theorem (Reuters)

An Oxford University academic has warned that mathematics is open to misuse by bankers.

Sir Andrew Wiles, who famously proved Fermat's Last Theorem between 1986 and 1995, argued that his subject had become a powerful tool that could be used for financial gain.

"One has to be aware now that mathematics can be misused and that we have to protect its good name," Wiles told the Times.

Wiles claimed that the abuse of mathematics during the global financial meltdown in 2009, particularly by banks' manipulation of complex derivatives, had tarnished his chosen subject's reputation.

He explained that scientists used to worry about the ethical repercussions of their work and that mathematics research, which used to be removed from day-to-day life, has diverged "towards goals that you might not believe in".

The mathematician was speaking at Oxford University during the unveiling of a new £70m ($112m, €82m) complex to house all of the prestigious university's students of mathematics.

The Andrew Wiles Building has a workspace for more than 500 mathematical researchers and support staff and will be a centre for 900 undergraduates.

The project's lead benefactor was Landon Clay, the Boston based founder of the Clay Mathematics Institute and ex-chairman of investment management firm Eaton Vance.

"The opening of this fantastic building is great news for Oxford's staff and students, who will soon be learning together in a stunning new space," David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said.

"Our top mathematicians help unlock the mysteries of science, and enable us to stay ahead in the global race."