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French rogue trader prison term upheld, €4.9 bn fine cancelled

Jérôme Kerviel walks in Modena, Italy, as part of his pilgrimage from Rome to Paris
Jérôme Kerviel walks in Modena, Italy, as part of his pilgrimage from Rome to Paris AFP/Gabriel Bouys

France's top appeals court has upheld a three-year prison sentence against rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel. But the court cancelled the part of his sentence that required him to repay the nearly five billion euros he lost as a stock trader with his former employer, Société Générale. The mixed ruling had lawyers for both sides claiming victory. 

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Jérôme Kerviel's battle to clear his name continues. On Wednesday 19 March a French court upheld a previous sentence of three years in prison, charging him with one of the biggest trading frauds in history.

In 2010, Kerviel was convicted on charges of breach of trust, forgery and entering false data for unauthorised deals that threatened to bankrupt Société Générale, one of Europe's biggest banks.

Six years after his initial arrest, Kerviel still insists the bank knew about his activities, but chose to turn a blind eye so long as he was making money.

The fact that the court threw out an order for him to pay back 4.9 billion euros, is for his lawyer, Patrice Spinosi, a sign that the bank shares some of the guilt.

"The bank has been placed at the heart of a new trial, which is no longer the trial of Jerome Kerviel, but the trial of Société Générale,"Spinosi said.

But Société Générale lawyer Jean Veil said the bank's position has not changed.

"When this case emerged, we knew there were weaknesses in our system, which we have since repaired. We've always maintained this, and so we do not have the sense that we've lost the case."

Kerviel himself was not present in court, because he is currently walking from Rome to Paris.

After meeting Pope Francis in the Vatican last month, Kerviel started out on the 1400-kilometre journey, which he says is meant to draw attention to the tyranny of financial markets.

 

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