updated 2/3/2008 2:59:15 PM ET 2008-02-03T19:59:15

French investigators have questioned several executives at Societe Generale as part of a probe into the futures trader that the bank has blamed for billions of euros in losses, a judicial official said Sunday.

Societe Generale stunned the banking world Jan. 24 when it announced that it lost $7.09 billion in cleaning up unauthorized trades by a futures trader. It said Jerome Kerviel overstepped his authority and bet $73 billion — more than the bank's market value — on futures in European equity markets.

On Friday, Xavier de la Maisonneuve, the bank's business ethics expert, answered investigators' questions, as did an executive charged with carrying out an audit of Kerviel's department, the judicial official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Societe Generale is a complainant in the probe. A bank spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Investigating judges have filed preliminary charges against Kerviel for forgery, breach of trust and unauthorized computer activity. Investigators have also seized Kerviel's personal computer to study it.

Officials said Friday that one of the investigating judges working on the case questioned Christian Schricke, senior executive vice president and corporate secretary of the bank.

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is expected Monday to hand the prime minister a report on the lessons to learn from the Societe Generale scandal.

Analysts have been speculating about the future of the French bank, which is seeking $8.15 billion in new capital. Some think it could be bought or dismantled, with its units being divided up among other leading banks.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon has said his government will seek to block any hostile bid. President Nicolas Sarkozy's top aide, Claude Gueant, said in an interview published Sunday by Le Parisien newspaper that it was up to Societe Generale to choose its future path, though the government would prefer "a friendly solution" rather than a hostile takeover.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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