Kerviel to claim bank negligence

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Jérôme Kerviel will claim corporate negligence in his defence against Société Générale, the bank that has blamed him for €4.9bn ($7.7bn) of losses in the biggest rogue trading scandal to have hit the financial services industry.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Guillaume Selnet, Mr Kerviel’s lawyer, accused France’s second biggest bank of not only being fully aware of his client’s activities but also of accommodating them.

“They condoned his trades,” he said. “We believe it is impossible for his superiors to pretend they were not aware of what was happening.”

Speaking in his office, Mr Selnetsaid he believed Mr Kerviel’s case had been bolstered by the preliminary findings of the internal investigation led by three SocGen non-executive directors, published as a report six weeks ago.

That report listed 75 alerts or warnings relating to Mr Kerviel’s trades that were not fully followed up by the bank.

“It is difficult to believe the argument that Jérôme was able to build up his trades because of negligence. If this was negligence, then it was corporate negligence and this is one of our arguments. The negligence cannot be the sum of individual negligence but, rather, it results from corporate negligence – a systemic attitude towards controls over the traders,” he added.

Asked whether Mr Kerviel had received offers from film studios and book contracts, he said he knew of none.

The 31-year-old, who was released from La Santé prison in Paris two weeks ago, was concentrating on his defence case, Mr Selnet said. The former junior equity derivatives trader is being investigated for alleged forgery, breach of trust and unauthorised use of a computer in connection with unhedged transactions that left SocGen with a potential exposure of€50bn.

Unwinding the exposure led to €4.9bn of losses in a secret four-day fire sale by the bank.

The lawyer said the investigation was focused on Mr Kerviel’s relationship with his colleagues and immediate superiors.

The investigation is in its final stages, according to Jean Veil, SocGen’s lawyer.

“Except for surprises, the investigation will finish before the summer and, normally, Kerviel will be in front of a court during the first half of next year after the decision of the public attorney and the examining magistrates,” he said Friday.

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