French judges quiz both traders in Societe Generale case: sources

  • France
  • 02/25/2008
  • Yahoo News

French judges on Thursday again questioned the rogue trader charged in the seven-billion-dollar scandal at Societe Generale, as well as another trader at the bank’s subsidiary, sources close to the case said.

Jerome Kerviel, 31, has been charged with breach of trust, fabricating documents and illegally accessing computers. He was questioned for more than four hours on Thursday, his third grilling since being charged on January 28.

The judges also met separately with another trader linked to Kerviel who worked for Societe Generale subsidiary Fimat — now Newedge — and has been named as an assisted witness in the case involving falsifying documents.

An assisted witness means he can testify in the presence of a lawyer.

The questioning centred on his relationship with Kerviel, focusing on instant messaging exchanges between the traders.

Some 1,600 pages of instant messaging texts sent from September 2007 to January 2008 have been seized by police investigating charges that Kerviel falsified documents and stole computer codes to cover up his unauthorized trading.

The second trader’s lawyer Jean-David Scemama has filed suit for fraud over the publication of some of the messages in the press, which he said “can lead to believe that the two men were accomplices.”

One message sent by the broker to Kerviel in December 2007 read, “You have done nothing illegal according to the law,” French press reports said.

The second trader was initially held for questioning by police on February 7, some two weeks after Societe Generale revealed it had lost 4.82 billion euros (7.1 billion dollars) at the hands of a rogue trader.

“He will continue to help the search for the truth, freely, under no constraints, not even from his employer,” said the lawyer for the second trader, who is still employed by Newedge.

While Kerviel has insisted he acted alone, he has suggested that his bosses at Societe Generale knew that he was dealing with huge sums of money and that they turned a blind eye as long as he was not in the red.

Kerviel is being held in custody during the investigation into what Societe Generale says were unauthorised trades worth at least 50 billion euros, more than the leading French bank’s own capital.