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Rogue French trader lands consulting job

Jerome Kerviel, who shook global financial markets when Societe Generale revealed $7.14 billion in losses tied what it says were unauthorized trades, has landed a new job.
/ Source: The Associated Press

He was tied this year to one of the largest securities scandals in history and faces charges ranging from forgery to unauthorized computer use, yet the former trader at French bank Societe Generale is gainfully employed, again.

Jerome Kerviel, who shook global financial markets when the bank revealed $7.14 billion in losses tied what it says were unauthorized trades, landed a new job as a computer consultant less than a month after his conditional release from prison.

“He’s not a star. He wants a normal life,” said Kerviel’s spokesman, Christophe Reille.

Kerviel started working last week for LCA computer consultancy in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, hired by the same man who took him in and hid him from journalists after Societe Generale announced in January that Kerviel had piled up unauthorized positions of more than $73 billion.

Kerviel, 31, got the job offer while behind bars in early February. He was able to accept the position because a judge recently altered the terms of his release.

After six weeks in prison, Kerviel’s return to some sense of normality was diverted Friday. His new boss, Jean-Raymond Lemaire, complained about the swarming French media that showed up outside the office when word spread that Kerviel was on the clock.

“I don’t want to say more. He’s here to work, you have to respect that,” Lemaire said.

Kerviel was freed on condition that he not enter any trading floors or stock exchanges. He surrendered his passport and is must remain near Paris region, judicial officials have said.

LCA’s Web site says the firm provides technical, operational and financial advice to clients, which the company says include tech companies AOL and Oracle as well as French financial sector giants BNP Paribas bank and insurer Axa.

Reille said Kerviel’s new job has nothing to do with finance.

“Jerome is a young man who wants to work, and doesn’t want to remain inactive living on unemployment insurance,” Reille said Friday.

Lemaire said he met Kerviel “by chance” and decided to hire him, without elaborating. He said Kerviel, who has kept a low profile since his release, has come into the office regularly since he was hired two weeks ago.

Kerviel faces up to three years in prison if his case goes to trial and he is convicted on the preliminary charges of unauthorized computer activity, forgery and breach of trust.

Since stunning global financial markets with the revelation that billions were lost because of positions taken by a single, low-level trader, Societe Generale, one of Europe’s largest banks, said it has tightened controls to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Kerviel says his superiors must have known what he was doing but that they chose to look the other way when he was making money. Reille said Kerviel earned the bank $2.37 billion last year.

“I don’t think he’ll earn a billion and a half for his (new) employer the first year,” said Reille.