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Paris trial of Société Générale trader: Who's responsible for $6 billion loss?

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Jacques Brinon/AP

(Read caption) Former Société Générale trader Jerome Kerviel, right, arrives with his lawyer Olivier Metzner at Paris Court House for his trial, Wednesday.

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So now we are finally at the Paris trial of Jérôme Kerviel, the junior futures trader and celebrity-accused who managed to lose some $6 billion of the assets of Société Générale. The basic question to be answered: who is responsible?

Millions of media years ago, in the Paleolithic period of January 2008 before toxic assets, Bernie Madoff, global meltdowns, sovereign debt, and the Greek bailout – back in the days when $6 billion was real money – rose “l’affaire Kerviel.”

The drama involving France’s No. 2 bank soaked headlines for months: How could a young buck not even from Paris, but provincial Breton, not an elite, who had “girlfriend trouble,” worked 23.5 hours a day, seemed slightly Tom Cruise-y, and didn’t actually profit from his artful dodging, cause the largest-ever loss of its kind, shaking global markets?

Former Société Générale chief Daniel Bouton, who resigned amid intense criticism just over a year ago, branded Kerviel “a terrorist” at the time. But Kerviel quickly became a romantic underdog – a clever anti-hero seen to be caught in the massive cogs of finance, who was only trying to do his job. T-shirts around Paris read, “I am Jerome’s girlfriend,” and he wrote a tell-all book, published last month.


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