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French 'rogue trader' Kerviel released from prison

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Jérôme Kerviel, the French trader who was jailed for losing almost €5 billion for Société Générale in rogue trades, left prison on parole Monday after serving just over 150 days of his three-year sentence.

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The 37-year-old Kerviel will serve out the rest of his sentence while living in a flat in Paris, although he will wear an electronic tracking bracelet and is bound by an evening curfew that obliges him to remain at home between 8:30pm and 7am.

"I am super happy to leave today ... I want to rebuild my life. I want to have a normal life with my loved ones, start a family and finally be able to enjoy life," Kerviel told reporters as he left the prison.

A former trader for Société Générale, Kerviel lost the banking giant €4.9 billion ($6.3 billion) in 2008 – at the height of the global financial crisis – after a series of risky trades went spectacularly wrong.

Kerviel has spent years fighting to overturn his conviction for breach of trust, forgery and fraudulent data manipulation. He has never denied masking his €50 billion in trades, but has said his bosses knew what he was doing and turned a blind eye to breaches of rules as long as the profits kept rolling in.

Société Générale, meanwhile, insists that Kerviel acted alone in circumventing its complex risk-control mechanisms. The bank's lawyer, Jean Veil, has accused Kerviel of "duplicity" in reassuring his employers that all was well.

"That fight goes on," Kerviel said of the outstanding legal challenges.

An 'ordinary' person

Kerviel lived modestly in a suburban flat and took the train to Brittany to visit his widowed mother during the holidays, even as he racked up billions for the bank in a skyscraper in the business district of La Defense in Paris.

"I am an ordinary person. I am not crazy," he said during the investigations into the scandal.

"I didn't earn millions [in salary] and I didn't drive a Porsche," Kerviel said. He was reportedly being paid €50,000 a year plus tens of thousands more in bonuses when the scandal erupted in January 2008.

"Have you seen my apartment? Forty-five square metres (485 square feet), no masters' paintings, Ikea furniture," he added.

In 2010 Kerviel was sentenced to five years in jail – two of them suspended – and to a fine of €4.9 billion, which was equal to the losses suffered by Société Générale.

The size of the fine, which essentially meant the bank would have had a lifetime claim on Kerviel’s income, caused an outcry from the public and some politicians who saw it as excessive.

The fine was later struck down on appeal at France's highest court, which also upheld a three-year prison sentence for Kerviel.

He is expected to take up a job with a software consultancy.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

 

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