London bombings kickstarted French trader's 'spiral' of deceit
Jerome Kerviel told investigators he made his first secret profits in the wake of the July 2005 London bombings, a "jackpot" that put him on the path to multi-billion-euro losses
PARIS, January 30, 2008 - French rogue trader Jerome Kerviel has told
investigators he made his first secret profits in the wake of the July 2005
London bombings, a "jackpot" that put him on the path to multi-billion-euro
losses for Societe Generale, according to leaked records of his deposition.
"My first experience of this kind goes back to 2005, when I took a position
on (German insurance giant) Allianz shares, betting on a drop in the market,"
Kerviel said in comments published in Le Monde newspaper and confirmed as
genuine by a judicial offical.
"It happened that shortly afterwards the market fell as a result of the
London bombings and it was a jackpot of 500,000 euros (700,000 dollars)".
Unable to explain his unauthorised winnings to his bosses, Kerviel says he
created a a fictitious operation to conceal them, the start of a vicious
spiral that ended with losses of 4.82 billion euros for Societe Generale.
"More than anything, I wanted to earn money for the bank. That was my first
motivation," Kerviel told investigators, explaining how he forged e-mails and
documents to cover up his actions.
From that point, Kerviel said he ran a parallel operation from his trading
desk, racking up secret profits of up to 1.4 billion euros in December 2007 --
but also losses of up to 2.5 billion euros in July 2007.
Deep in the red when his rogue dealing was discovered on Friday, January
18, Kerviel said he was confident he would turn his loss back into a profit by
Tuesday. "What I couldn't have guessed was that I would no longer be working
for Societe Generale."
Kerviel insisted his bosses at Societe Generale must have been aware he was
placing tens of billions of euros in risky futures trades.
"Day to day, as part of normal trading with normal levels of investments, a
trader cannot generate that much cash," Kerviel said.
"Which leads me to believe that when I was in the black, my hierarchy was
turning a blind eye towards the details and the sums involved," he said. "It
suited them to let me earn money".
He says he was repeatedly challenged about high-risk operations but that
each time he produced fictitious documents to cover himself -- and that they
were readily accepted by the bank.
"Their passivity pushed me to carry on ... and I was quickly sucked into a
spiral that I couldn't find a way out of."
At another point, Kerviel said the company would have stopped him had it
"It is obvious I could not have had such results without this system ...
Given the size of my positions, my superiors would have made me give them up."
Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said Monday that Kerviel had admitted
seeking to conceal transactions in a bid to score a major coup on the market
and boost his reputation.
"I understood from my first interview with them in 2005 that I was far less
respected than others considering my university background and my personal and
professional experience," Kerviel told investigators.
The trader was charged Monday with breach of trust, using false documents
and unauthorised computer access in relation to the losses at Societe
Generale, but judges did not approve the more serious charge of fraud.
Societe Generale has maintained that Kerviel acted alone and managed to
circumvent risk-management controls by using stolen computer access codes and fictitious documents.