French rogue trader gets prison, $7 billion fine
PARIS -- The Paris appeals court on Wednesday ordered former Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel to spend three years in prison and pay back a staggering €4.9 billion (about $7 billion) in damages for one of the biggest trading frauds in history.
The 35-year-old Kerviel says he was a scapegoat for the bank and a victim of a financial system that runs on greed and profits. His lawyer David Koubbi called the verdict "absolutely lamentable" and said his team will consider taking the case to France's highest court.
A lower court convicted Kerviel in October 2010 of forgery, breach of trust and unauthorized computer use for covering up bets worth nearly €50 billion in 2007 and 2008. By the time his trades were discovered and made public, he had amassed losses of almost €5 billion on those bets.
The sentence - a five-year prison term, with two years suspended, plus the payback of all the losses he incurred - shocked many in the French public. After a global financial crisis that many blamed on big banks, many believed Kerviel's claim that he was a victim of an injust system.
The appeals court Wednesday upheld the full conviction and sentence.
Kerviel, who arrived at the courthouse in a dark suit and looking tense, had sought an acquittal, saying the bank had turned a blind eye to his exorbitant trades as long as they made money. Prosecutors and the bank say that isn't true.
Societe Generale lawyer Jean Veil said the verdict was "a satisfaction." He suggested the bank wouldn't make Kerviel pay back the full multibillion-euro sum, and would take into account his income and assets.
But he insisted, "it would have been indecent that Kerviel could have preserved revenues" resulting from the fraud, such as book or movie royalties or other income.
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