French rogue trader Kerviel released as probe continues

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Rogue trader Jerome Kerviel walked out of a Paris prison and into a media scrum Tuesday after being released on bail

   PARIS, March 19, 2008  - Rogue trader Jerome Kerviel walked out of a
Paris prison and into a media scrum Tuesday after being released on bail while
investigators probe his role in the biggest ever bank trading scam.
   Kerviel was mobbed by journalists as he left La Sante prison dressed in a
dark suit and a pink shirt. The Societe Generale trader got into a car with
his lawyer and was driven off without making any statement.
   Police prevented photographers from following him on motorbikes.
   Kerviel had to surrender his passport before he left the jail and must not
leave the Paris area during the probe into the bank's losses of 4.9 billion
euros (7.1 billion dollars), the prosecutor's office said.
   His lawyer said that after more than a month in jail, the junior trader who
shot to international fame when the scandal broke in January would now "go and rest and we are all going to let him rest."
   Prosecutors had sought to keep him behind bars to stop him contacting
possible accomplices or tampering with evidence, but his lawyers appealed and on Tuesday a Paris court ordered him to be released.
   Societe Generale blames Kerviel for the mammoth losses incurred after the
bank was forced to unwind more than 50 billion euros of unauthorised deals he
is said to have made.
   Kerviel, 31, who has been detained since February 8, has maintained he
acted alone but suggested his bosses knew he was dealing with huge sums of
money and turned a blind eye so long as he was making a profit.
   An internal bank inquiry found that Kerviel's allegedly unauthorised
trading had not been detected because of his sophisticated techniques, but it
also pointed the finger at internal audit and risk control failures.
   Kerviel turned himself into police on January 26, two days after the bank
revealed the losses, and was charged January 28 with breach of trust,
fabricating documents and illegally accessing computers.
   He was initially released but prosecutors won a court decision last month
to have him jailed.
   The ruling to release him Tuesday was issued with strict orders that he
avoid all places where financial trading takes place, that he present himself
to police once a week and that he must once a month show police proof of where he is living, the prosecutor's office said.
   If found guilty of breach of trust, Kerviel would face a maximum sentence
of three years in prison and a fine of 370,000 euros.
   A judicial source said Monday that Kerviel had told investigators that
co-workers helped him place hidden trades that led to the multi-billion-euro
   He claimed he asked his assistant at the bank to record fictitious market
operations, and that he agreed in full knowledge that Kerviel was trying to
conceal his unauthorised deals, the source said.
   The trader also said he had taken "open positions, reaching five or six
hundred million euros, on his line manager's computer, and in his presence,"
according to prosecution documents seen by AFP.
   The Societe Generale staff implicated have either denied Kerviel's claims
or justified their actions, the legal source said.
   A broker who worked for Societe Generale subsidiary Fimat and who knew
Kerviel was questioned twice and named as an assisted witness in the case, but no charges have been laid against him.
   Last Wednesday a 29-year-old Societe Generale employee described as a
friend of Kerviel was detained for questioning but released later that day
without charge.
   In an exclusive interview with AFP last month, Kerviel said he refused to
be made a scapegoat by Societe Generale management and that he got a "bit
carried away" in his aim of making money for the bank.
   "I accept my share of responsibility but I will not be made a scapegoat for
Societe Generale," he said during the interview at his lawyer's Paris offices.


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