French trader Kerviel, a shy 'loner' at work
French trader Jerome Kerviel, who gained notoriety for allegedly gambling away billions of dollars at a top bank, is described as a loner who bears a slight resemblance to actor Tom Cruise.
PARIS, January 27, 2008 - French trader Jerome Kerviel, who gained
notoriety for allegedly gambling away billions of dollars at a top bank, is
described as a loner with a lacklustre resume who bears a slight resemblance
to actor Tom Cruise.
The 31-year-old trader at Societe Generale turned himself in to police on
Saturday but had yet to be charged in the scandal over the colossal losses of
4.9 billion euros (7.15 billion dollars), the biggest in financial history.
The shy, unassuming young man joined Societe Generale in August 2000 in the
investment banking department after studying at Lyon 2 University, where he
obtained a diploma in finance.
First employed in the middle and back offices as part of the support staff,
he had moved up to the front office in 2005. There, he was trading futures on
European share indices, effectively betting on the future direction of the
Colleagues quoted in the French press describe him as "a loner behind his
computer screen" and nicknamed him "Tom Cruise" because of a slight
resemblance to the "Top Gun" star.
Kerviel's teachers at Lyon 2 said he had not stood out as a financial
whizz, graduating with solid but not exceptional grades from the university.
At Societe Generale, he earned less than 100,000 euros per year, a pittance
compared to some of the earnings of his fellow traders.
The portrayal of Kerviel by colleagues and his family as a quiet,
hard-working trader stood in contrast to the conniving "genius" described by
Societe Generale officials who on Thursday revealed the massive losses.
Societe Generale chairman and chief executive Daniel Bouton described
Kerviel as a "crook, fraudster and terrorist" even as colleagues said he was
generally well-thought of by his bosses for his reserved demeanour.
The brown-haired, serious-looking Kerviel is accused by Societe Generale of
having succeeded in circumventing a complex web of risk-control mechanisms,
having acquired an intimate knowledge of the system.
But Kerviel's family took to the airwaves at the weekend to defend the
young man from the small town of Pont L'Abbe in Brittany, who once ran
unsuccessfully for municipal office as a candidate for President Nicolas
Sarkozy's UMP party.
"Jerome is not capable of doing such a thing," said his aunt Sylviane Le
Goff in an interview to RTL radio.
"You have to look around in his entourage, his superiors and management (to
find the culprits). Jerome is an honest and serious boy who is close to his
family," she said.
Saying he had "done nothing wrong," Le Goff went on to add that the
investigation would show that he was the scapegoat for mismanagement or other
misdeeds at Societe Generale.
Kerviel was the younger of two boys born to a retired hairdresser who ran a
salon in Pont L'Abbe (population 8,000). His mother rushed to his side in
Paris earlier this month after learning of his problems at work, according to
His father, who passed away from cancer two years ago, gave training
courses in metal works in nearby Quimper and neighbours have described the
Kerviel clan as a "good family".
On his resume, Kerviel listed sailing and judo as his favorite sports.
He lived in a rented apartment in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly that
was raided by police on Friday but turned up little of value to investigators,
according to a source.