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Kerviel’s new boss to help ex-trader ‘rebuild his life’

Lionel Bonaventure, AFP | Jérôme Kerviel at a cafe in Paris after leaving prison on September 8, 2014.

Jérôme Kerviel, the French “rogue trader” who brought one of Europe’s biggest banks to its knees by placing wildly risky bets, walked out of prison on Monday with an electronic bracelet around his ankle and a new consultancy job in hand.

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"At 65, what have I got to risk ?," his new employer Jean-Raymond Lemaire, the founder of Lemaire Consultants et Associés, told French radio station RMC, saying he wanted to help the 37-year-old ex-trader “rebuild his life”.

“Many want to be seen with him, but it’s a different thing to give him a job,” said Lemaire, whose company’s clients include insurance group AXA, cosmetics giant L’Oreal, and energy firm GDF Suez.

“I want to teach him what I know, and then it’s up to him to decide what he wants to do with his future,” he said.

Kerviel became a household name six years ago after he lost his former employer, French bank Société Générale, a whopping €4.9 billion euros through illicit trades on derivatives.

While Kerviel has never denied masking his €50 billion in trades, he maintains he was made a scapegoat for the wider failings of the financial system, saying his Société Générale bosses were fully aware of his risky trades, and tacitly approved his actions.

In a bid to raise awareness, he embarked on a trek from Rome to Paris earlier this year to highlight the "tyranny of the markets", even securing an audience with Pope Francis.

Société Générale has repeatedly denied it had any knowledge of his risky market bets.

Kerviel to lead a ‘normal life’

In 2010, Kerviel was convicted of breach of trust, forgery and entering false data in relation to the unauthorised trades. The court initially sentenced him to five years in prison, of which two were suspended, as well as a €4.9 billion fine which was later struck down. He was imprisoned in May this year.

But last week, just under 150 days into Kerviel’s prison term, a Paris appeals court ruled that the former trader would be allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence under the supervision of an electronic bracelet.

Under the terms of the ruling, the former trader is bound by an evening curfew that obliges him to remain at home between 8:30pm and 7am Monday to Friday.

"I am super happy to leave today ... 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.

The ex-trader’s release was made possible by his new job at Lemaire’s consultancy firm.

This is not the first time Kerviel comes into contact with Lemaire, who briefly hosted the then-fugitive trader shortly after news of the massive trading losses broke in January 2008, and then offered him a first job.

Neither Kerviel nor Lemaire have said when he will start his now job at the consultancy firm, which is headquartered in Levallois-Perret, a northeastern suburb of Paris.
 

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