French court rejects rogue trader Jerome Kerviel's appeal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 1:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 1:44am

Jerome Kerviel, the former Societe Generale employee convicted for unauthorised transactions that lead to one of the biggest trading losses in history, faces prison after a French court rejected his appeal.

The Cour de Cassation, France's highest appeals court, yesterday rebuffed Kerviel's efforts to overturn a 2012 verdict that found him guilty of abusing the bank's trust, faking documents and entering false data into computers that resulted in a €4.9 billion (HK$53 billion) loss.

The court, however, accepted Kerviel's civil appeal that had sought to contest the bank's charge that he was solely responsible for the loss, handing the former trader a partial victory by overturning an order that he repay the amount. Details of the loss will be examined by a court in Versailles.

"We will continue to fight to show that the so-called Kerviel case was in fact the Societe Generale case," David Koubbi, Kerviel's lawyer, said.

Kerviel, 37, was not present in court. He had recently finished a gruelling protest trek from Rome to Paris to highlight the "tyranny of the markets".

He had met with Pope Francis in the Vatican during the pontiff's weekly general audience on February 19 before starting out on the 1,400-kilometre trek.

Societe Generale's 2008 loss exceeded its corporate and investment banking profit over the six years through 2013.

Kerviel was called a "terrorist" by then-chief executive officer Daniel Bouton.

The bank's lawyer, Jean Veil, said that the decision was not a defeat. The court considered it necessary to examine "if a part of the responsibility had to be shared in terms of damages and interest", he said, adding that Societe Generale had spent hundreds of millions of euros to change its controls to address the shortcomings in its systems.

Kerviel became something of a cult hero in France in the aftermath of the 2008 loss.

There was a comic book, fan clubs and T-shirts supporting his cause.

A poll taken after news of the loss broke showed 77 per cent of French respondents saw him as a "victim".