Kerviel was a zombie, court hears

Ex-Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel was an overworked “zombie” trader whose risky bets were symptomatic of the bank’s faulty control system, two French academics said at his trial yesterday.

Kerviel, blamed by SocGen for a €4.9bn (£4bn) trading loss in 2008, never took holidays and worked long hours, an industry problem according to Jean-Hubert Blanchet, finance professor at Paris-II University.

“This makes the trader structurally more dangerous: the mad trader becomes the zombie trader,” Blanchet told the courtroom in the Palais de Justice.

Yesterday’s session began with the confirmation that former SocGen chief Daniel Bouton would appear as a witness on Tuesday. Bouton quit in 2009 after attracting heavy criticism of his leadership and handling of the Kerviel affair.

Another professor at Paris-II University, Catherine Lubochinsky, told the court that Kerviel’s trading profits, which veered between €2.2bn in the red and €1.4bn in the black, should have alerted his superiors.

“They are all guilty – both parties,” said Lubochinsky, referring to Kerviel and SocGen. Former head SocGen controls supervisor Marie Auclair told the court Kerviel covered his tracks by personally asking her to mask inconsistencies in his trading book.