Rogue trader or anti-hero?

  • Noopur Tiwari, Hindustan Times, Paris
  • Updated: Sep 06, 2014 17:17 IST

A "rogue trader" who worked for Société Générale and shocked the world with the biggest trading fraud in history, is set to walk free on Monday – but with an electronic tag on his ankle.

Jerome Kerviel may well be retaining a halo: he enjoys widespread sympathy as a poor boy who was scapegoated by an exploitative banking system.

Société Générale said he was not "one of our stars" but Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer called him a "computer genius".

Kerviel even met the Pope, giving a boost to his image of a common man fighting against greed. He served just 100-odd days in jail for gambling a whopping 50 billion euros and driving the bank into a "mini crash" with losses of 4.9 billion euros.

Kerviel was asked by courts to return this sum to the bank but the fine was later rolled back. The ex-trader turned the table on his bosses by declaring that they were aware of his actions and happy upto the time he made profits.

He claimed he was unfairly dismissed from his job and asked for 4.9 billion euros in damages, the amount the bank said it had lost because of Kerviel's actions.

At the time of his re-arrest, earlier this year in May, Kerviel was returning to France after a two-month long walking trip in Italy, to protest the "tyranny" of banks.

“I am an ordinary person. I’m not crazy,” Kerviel had said during the investigation. “I didn’t earn millions and I didn’t drive a Porsche.”

The former trader has won the support of several public figures including French politicians from both the left and right.

His anti-hero story has inspired a graphic novel and a soon to be released film.

Kerviel has already been hired by a computer security consulting firm and is set to lead a "completely normal life" upon his release, said his lawyer.

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