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Ex-trader fined $6.7b says new trial would reveal the truth

‘I have the feeling they wanted to make me pay for everybody and that Societe Generale had to be saved,’ said Jerome Kerviel. ‘I have the feeling they wanted to make me pay for everybody and that Societe Generale had to be saved,’ said Jerome Kerviel.
Associated Press / October 7, 2010

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PARIS — Former trader Jerome Kerviel, 33, speaking for the first time yesterday about his tough sentencing in history’s biggest rogue trading scandal, insisted he is a scapegoat for his former employer and compared the penalty to getting “hit on the head with a club.’’

He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay Societe Generale, the bank where he used to work, $6.7 billion — enough to buy 20 Airbus A380 superjumbo jets.

“I’m starting to digest it, but I’m nonetheless crushed by the weight of the sanction,’’ Kerviel told Europe-1 radio.

As some observers began calling for the bank to forgive Kerviel’s astronomical debt, Societe Generale said it doesn’t expect to get all of its money back.

A spokeswoman said the bank was “open to finding a solution that’s in the interests of our shareholders and employees, and that takes into account Jerome Kerviel’s situation.’’

Kerviel maintained in court that the bank and his bosses tolerated his massive risk-taking as long as it made money — a claim the bank strongly denied, saying he took great pains to cover up his actions.

“I have the feeling they wanted to make me pay for everybody and that Societe Generale had to be saved,’’ he said.

Of the verdict, he said: “It’s difficult, obviously, when you get hit on the head with a club that way.’’

Kerviel is appealing and says he hopes in a new trial “to prove once and for all that I wasn’t the only one in the boat.’’

The bank says Kerviel made bets of up to $70 billion — more than the bank’s total market value — on futures contracts on three European equity indexes, and that he masked the size of his bets by recording fictitious offsetting transactions.

The $6.7 billion figure is the sum the bank says it lost unwinding Kerviel’s complex positions in January 2008.

Kerviel currently makes $1,245 a month as a computer consultant.