Jerome Kerviel, the former Societe Generale trader who brought the bank to the brink of collapse in 2008 by placing bets worth 50 billion euros ($69.5 billion), has been sentenced to at least three years in jail but will shed the title of "most indebted man on earth" after six years of legal battles.
Since 2008, Kerviel and his former employer Societe Generale have been embroiled in legal battles following a trading loss of 4.9 billion euros ($6.8 billion), a loss the bank puts squarely on Kerviel's shoulders. It accuses him of breach of trust, forgery and unauthorized use of the bank's computers. Kerviel denies the accusations and insists he did not act alone, saying his colleagues and bosses were aware of the huge trades but chose to turn a blind eye
He has continuously rejected the "rogue trader" title that has been pinned on him.
Francois Guillot | AFP | Getty Images
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"We have emails in our penal dossier which prove that my bosses were informed from 2007, so nearly a year before, of what I was doing", Jerome Kerviel said in an interview on current affairs show La Nouvelle Edition on March 11.
But the French courts have continuously sided with Societe General and in 2010, Kerviel was found guilty of abuse of confidence and illegal access to computers and sentenced to five years of prison, three of which were not suspended. He was also asked to repay the full 4.9 billion euros.
Kerviel swiftly appealed but found himself no luckier and in a last-ditch attempt to escape jail, turned to the Cour de Cassation in 2012, which judges on the law's practical application, and not on fact. However, his last hope was dashed on Wednesday afternoon as the court chose to uphold the conviction of the ex-Soc Gen trader. It offered some relief by overturning the civil ruling that asked for Kerviel to repay to 4.9 billion euros in damages.
In a statement, Societe Generale says that it has taken note of the Supreme Court of Appeal's decision "which definitely confirms the criminal responsibility of Jerome Kerviel" and that it now awaits the decision of Versaille's Court of Appeal regarding the civil damages.
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Since referring his case to the Cour de Cassation, the disowned trader had painted himself as the David to the banking system's Goliath. Kerviel flew to Rome to meet the Pope in February 2014 before starting a march from Rome to Paris.
"It's a march against the markets' tyranny, according to the Holy Father's words", David Koubbi said on a website set up in support of the former trader.
"Within three years, my targets had risen by 1700 percent. But it's just not possible. And my bosses who saw money coming in were saying: continue to do exactly the same thing", Kerviel told La Nouvelle Edition.
"But to do the same thing, well, I took more and more risks and I got used to taking risks. The system is vicious. You detach yourself from reality to run after performance and the targets that you had been given until you lose control, like I did", he added.
"I learnt that the prosecutor has asked for my immediate incarceration if the case was not broken", Kerviel informed La Nouvelle Edition, "I feel like I'm Guy Georges (a French serial killer)."
Kerviel was not at the Cour de Cassation to hear his verdict.
In his latest Facebook post on March 16, Kerviel said he was "exhausted by a day of walking in mountains", signaling that he was probably in the Alps.
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