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Jérôme Kerviel - The 5 Billion Euro Man

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France details charges against rogue trader

Prosecutors plan to seek 3 charges against Jerome Kerviel, who is alleged to have carried out a $7 billion fraud.

January 28 2008: 9:19 AM EST

PARIS (CNN) -- French prosecutors said Monday they plan to pursue four charges, including fraud, against the trader who allegedly carried out a $7.2 billion fraud at French banking giant Societe Generale.

The charges also include breach of confidence, misrepresentation, and illegal use of logins, which relates to forgery. But the charge of fraud is the most serious and carries a maximum of seven years in prison and a fine of 750,000 Euros ($1.1 million).

Paris Prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin briefed reporters about the charges four days after Societe Generale announced the fraud scandal, the largest ever by an individual in the securities business.

Police have been questioning the trader, 31-year-old Jerome Kerviel, since Friday.

Marin planned to go before a Paris judge Monday to request the charges, because under French law, a suspect may be held for only 48 hours without charge. That deadline expires for Kerviel on Monday afternoon.

The prosecutor said he would also ask the judge to grant Kerviel's continued detention to allow police more time to question him.

In announcing the stunning fraud last week, Societe Generale said Kerviel alone was responsible. Marin said Monday that investigators and prosecutors support that theory, though they continue to search for any accomplices Kerviel may have had.

"The investigation shows very clearly at the moment that Mr. Kerviel acted alone and the investigation has not demonstrated any complicity," Marin told reporters.

In questioning so far, Marin said, Kerviel has been cooperative and has admitted exceeding his credit limit in order to make fraudulent transactions involving European index futures.

"I exploded my credit line," Marin quoted Kerviel as saying.

But Kerviel also defended himself, pointing out to police that in 2007, the bank felt he was doing such a good job that it offered him a 300,000 Euro ($440,000) bonus. The bank discovered Kerviel's fraud before paying the bonus.

Kerviel told investigators that his actions were no different to those of other traders -- the only difference with him is that he was caught.

Both Marin and Societe Generale (SCGL.Y) say they don't believe Kerviel profited from his alleged crime, but was merely playing with the markets and got in too deep.

Investigators searched Kerviel's apartment in an upscale Paris suburb Friday and carried off a briefcase and other material. Financial investigators also searched the headquarters of Societe Generale.

Marin is acting on a legal complaint filed by the bank against Kerviel. A second legal complaint, filed by the bank's shareholders, seeks to find out what role Societe General's role is in the fraud.


This is reminiscient of "Rogue Trader" Nick Leeson, the deriviatives trader who brought down famed Barings Bank in 1995 with losses of $1.4 billion.

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