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Banker released without charge

Latest update : 2008-03-13

An unnamed banker, suspected of being an accomplice of Jerome Kerviel in the Societe Generale bank scandal, was released from custody Thursday, after testifying before an investigating judge.

A Societe Generale employee has been released without charge after being questioned over the multi-billion-euro rogue trading scandal at the French bank, a judicial source said Thursday.
  
Police released the man who worked on Societe Generale's trading floor late Wednesday after questioning him on his contacts with trader Jerome Kerviel, who is charged in connection with the scandal, said the source.
  
They are seeking to establish whether the detained employee may have helped Kerviel place more than 50 billion euros (77.4 billion dollars) in unauthorised deals, according to the source.
  
Societe Generale has blamed trades made by Kerviel for the mammoth losses of 4.911 billion euros incurred after the bank was forced to unwind Kerviel's deals.
  
Police from the specialist financial brigade picked up the employee early Wednesday at Societe Generale's offices near Paris and searched his desk as well as his home.
  
Described in press reports as a 29-year-old friend of Kerviel, the employee works for the bank's SG Securities unit. Investigators examining Kerviel's phone records found numerous calls made by him to the employee, a source close to the investigation said.
  
Kerviel, 31, has been charged with breach of trust, fabricating documents and illegally accessing computers in the biggest rogue trading scandal in investment banking history.
  
He is currently being held in a Paris prison and is due to appear in court on Friday to seek release from custody.
  
Investigators have failed to come up with any significant leads on possible accomplices to Kerviel.
  
A broker who worked for Societe Generale subsidiary Fimat and who knew Kerviel was questioned twice and named as an assisted witness in the case, but no charges have been laid against him.
  
While Kerviel has maintained he acted alone, he has suggested that his bosses at Societe Generale knew that he was dealing with huge sums of money but turned a blind eye as long as he was making a profit.
  
In an exclusive interview with AFP last month, Kerviel said he refused to be made a scapegoat by Societe Generale management and that he got a "bit carried away" in his aim of making money for the bank.
  
"I was designated (as solely responsible) by Societe Generale. I accept my share of responsibility but I will not be made a scapegoat for Societe Generale," he said during the interview at his lawyer's Paris offices.
  
An internal bank inquiry found that Kerviel's allegedly unauthorised trading had not been detected because of his sophisticated techniques, but it also pointed the finger at internal audit and risk control failures.
  
Shares in Societe Generale fell more than 3.0 percent in opening deals Thursday on the Paris stock exchange after a group of US investors launched a class action law suit against the French bank.
  
US law firm Cohen Milstein Hausfeld and Toll filed the suit in a federal court in New York on Wednesday alleging that Societe Generale misled investors about its exposure to risky US mortgage securities and failed to thwart the rogue trade deals.

Date created : 2008-03-13

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