Decision due on retrial for French rogue trader Kerviel

21st March 2016, Comments 0 comments

Investigators will decide Monday on whether French rogue trader Jerome Kerviel has the right to a retrial over his conviction for gambling away 4.9 billion euros ($5.5 billion) and almost bankrupting one of Europe's biggest banks.

Branded a crook by his ex-employer and a scapegoat by his defenders, the 39-year-old was sentenced to three years in prison in 2010 for his unauthorised trading at French bank Societe Generale.

Kerviel, who insists his employers were aware of his actions, was given a conditional release in September 2014 after spending less than five months behind bars.

Launching his bid for a retrial in January, he told reporters that his initial trial was "rigged" and that he was "ashamed of the (French) justice system"

Monday's decision will be made by an investigating committee advising the Paris review court -- the first step towards a possible retrial in the sensational case.

Kerviel is basing his bid on fresh evidence from Nathalie Le Roy, a top detective in the case, who testified behind closed doors in April 2015 that she felt Societe Generale had "manipulated" her during the investigation in 2008.

According to a transcript seen by AFP, Le Roy told the court: "I had the feeling, then the certainty that Jerome Kerviel's superiors could not have been unaware" that he was taking wildly risky bets on equity derivatives.

In a bombshell revelation in January, Le Roy presented recordings of a former deputy prosecutor in the case, Chantal de Leiris, saying it was "obvious" that the bank was aware of Kerviel's shady dealings.

"When the subject comes up, anyone even a little bit involved in finance laughs, knowing very well that Societe Generale knew... it's obvious, obvious," says de Leiris in the recordings, made in June 2015.

- 'Pseudo-revelations' -

Kerviel's trades could have bankrupted Societe Generale had they not been discovered and unwound in time.

He was convicted of breach of trust, forgery and entering false data, but claimed his bosses turned a blind eye to his malfeasance as long as the profits kept rolling in.

Societe Generale has rejected what it called "pseudo-revelations" and a "new media manipulation" in the case.

The bank's lawyer Jean Veil dismissed as "nonsense" the idea that the bank knew of the rogue trading.

It is "implausible that those directly above Jerome Kerviel or the people who worked with him every day knew but didn't say anything," Veil told AFP in January.

He said Kerviel's colleagues would have no interest in covering up his risky manoeuvres for fear of jeopardising their bonuses, which depended on the performance of the team.

Kerviel was initially ordered to repay to Societe Generale the 4.9 billion euros he lost, but an appeals court overturned the order, arguing that the bank's internal oversight mechanisms had failed.

Societe Generale launched a fresh court bid to recover the money in January, but a decision was delayed until mid-June to see if Kerviel would face a new criminal retrial.

© 2016 AFP

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