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Kerviel shame over rogue trader past as prison looms

AFP

French rogue trader Jerome Kerviel arrives at Paris courthouse on June 27, 2012French rogue trader Jerome Kerviel arrives at Paris courthouse on June 27, 2012

French rogue trader Jerome Kerviel arrives at Paris courthouse on June 27, 2012French rogue trader Jerome Kerviel arrives at Paris courthouse on June 27, 2012

Rogue trader Jerome Kerviel said Friday he was ashamed of the person he once was, as he prepares to go to prison for his role in the near-collapse of Societe Generale bank.

Kerviel, who has been on a walk from Rome to Paris, is due to cross the French border on Saturday and has been ordered to present himself at a police station by Sunday at the latest with a view to beginning a three-year prison term that was confirmed when his conviction was upheld on appeal in March.

Kerviel has not said whether he will go to the police off his own accord, but claimed to be in a "serene" state of mind about his future.

"Obviously you fear prison," he told France Bleu Azur radio from his hotel on the Italian side of the border on Friday.

"To be deprived of your liberty is a terrible thing.

"But liberty is above all within the mind and from that point of view, today I am completely free.

"I was someone who participated in an amoral system, I didn't realise that at the time.

"Today I am ashamed of that, I'm ashamed to have been a trader," said Kerviel, whose high-risk trading cost his former employer Societe Generale nearly five billion euros.

"My daily existence was about making money for the bank, that was my only objective, at any price, regardless of all moral or ethical considerations."

Kerviel embarked on his walk from Rome after meeting briefly with Pope Francis. He has styled it a protest march intended to highlight what he regards as the unfair treatment he has received from the courts.

While he was striding through the Tuscan hills, France's top appeals court upheld his 2010 conviction for breach of trust, forgery and entering false data in relation to unauthorised deals that brought one of the biggest banks in Europe to the brink of bankruptcy.

The ruling left Kerviel, who served 41 days in pre-trial detention in 2008, liable to be imprisoned at any time.

He continues to maintain that the bank was just as much at fault as he was.

"During my walk through Italy, I met people who suffered as a result of the economic crisis that was largely caused by the banks," he said Friday.

"I have had numerous messages of support from shop owners and craftsmen who have told me of the problems they have had getting credit from their banks."

Since meeting the pope, Kerviel has secured the support of a number of church figures who share his conviction that he has been made a scapegoat for the scandal while Societe Generale has escaped any blame.

French priest, Patrice Gourrier, has vowed to complete the 1,400-kilometre (870-mile) Rome-Paris walk if Kerviel is imprisoned before he can do so himself.

Although the March court ruling upheld Kerviel's sentence -- a five-year prison term with two suspended -- it cancelled an order for the former trader to pay back the money he lost and ordered a review of the damages award.

Kerviel's lawyers argue that this decision means that the bank will effectively be put on trial over the the failure of its supervisory system. His supporters say it is unfair for him to go to prison while that issue has not been resolved by the courts.

Date created : 2014-05-16