Jérôme Kerviel seeks to put SocGen in dock over €5bn loss

Ex-trader launches appeal against conviction for role in bringing one of France's oldest banks to the brink of collapse

The former "rogue trader" Jérôme Kerviel has launched an appeal against his conviction for his role in France's biggest trading scandal.

The one-time bank employee is arguing he was not responsible for losing the banking group Société Générale (SocGen) €4.9bn (£4bn), a trading loss that almost brought down one of the country's oldest banks.

Kerviel, 35, was sentenced in 2010 to five years in prison, with two of those years suspended, and ordered to reimburse the entire amount lost.

Wearing an open-neck white shirt and dark navy suit, he told the Paris court of appeal on Monday the losses, caused by unauthorised and high-risk betting on the futures markets, were not his fault. He claimed, as he did at his original trial, that his superiors knew what he was doing, which SocGen denies.

"I am not responsible for this loss," he told the court. "I have always behaved according to the rules set by my superiors."

Asked what he did for SocGen, he replied: "My task was to make money for the bank." He said he was part of a team that regularly ignored the €125m limit for trading.

Kerviel's lawyer, David Koubbi, filed two lawsuits before the hearing, accusing SocGen of obtaining a verdict under false pretences and of tampering with evidence. The bank, which has denied the accusations, has responded with countersuits for defamation.

Judge Mireille Filippini seemed unimpressed when Kerviel admitted he had not read the bank's code of trading conduct, which he had signed.

"It's useful to read it," she said, pointing out that it reminded traders they were required to be "loyal", but "not make the markets move too significantly" and to "pay attention to the risks" and "cover their positions". "Each one of you must realise the risk limits allowed," she continued, reading.

Kerviel responded: "Well yes, but between the rule book and the reality of the market room, there is an enormous gap."

Kerviel joined SocGen in 2000 in its back office and was promoted to the trading floor in 2005. At his trial in 2010, he admitted he had made unauthorised bets on the stock market without covering his risks. At one point he was gambling with up to €50bn – more than SocGen was worth. He described this as "an extravagant error".

Kerviel has insisted his bosses not only knew what he was doing, but encouraged him to take risks in pursuit of profits. The bank has denied this and accused him of being a "manipulator, a trickster and a liar" who caused a "planetary trauma".

France's newly elected Socialist president, François Hollande, has pledged to force banks to hive off their speculative business.


Kim Willsher in Paris

The GuardianTramp

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