SocGen man accused of hiding bets

City A.M. Reporter
FORMER Société Générale trader Jérôme Kerviel used convincing lies to mask his risky, unauthorised bets, an ex-boss told a Paris court yesterday.

The 33-year-old Kerviel, whom SocGen blamed for a €4.9bn (£4.1bn) trading loss in 2008, made bets without bosses knowing, former supervisor Eric Cordelle added.

“Jérôme was always able to come up with reasons, convincing explanations. He lied from start to finish and every time he said something, it was believable,” Cordelle told the court in the Palais de Justice as Kerviel’s trial enters its final week.

Although Kerviel has never denied his unauthorised bets that reached an estimated €50bn, he has insisted his superiors knew what he was doing. SocGen has argued Kerviel acted alone and egregiously and should be punished.

Kerviel risks five years in prison and a €375,000 fine if found guilty of charges of breach of trust, computer abuse and forgery. The trial is set to run until 25 June.

Cordelle, who lost his job after the scandal broke in early 2008, was appointed head of the trading desk where Kerviel worked in 2007.

He admitted to the court he did not really understand the inner workings of the desk and therefore could not monitor it effectively.

“I didn’t have the resources or the knowledge to do it. I didn’t necessarily understand the trader lingo,” he said, adding that the workload was so heavy there was no time to stop over a single anomaly.

Cordelle is appealing against his dismissal by SocGen in an employment tribunal, citing “a lack of resources and training” at the bank. Ex-SocGen chief Daniel Bouton is due to appear as a witness tomorrow.