Ex-trader Jerome Kerviel, speaking for the first time Wednesday about his tough sentencing in history's biggest rogue trading scandal, insisted he is a scapegoat for his former bank and compared the penalty to getting "hit on the head with a club."
The 33-year-old was convicted Tuesday, sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay his former employer damages of 4.9 billion euors ($6.7 billion) — the equivalent of 20 Airbus A380 superjumbo jets.
"I'm starting to digest it, but I'm nonetheless crushed by the weight of the sanction and the weight of responsibility the ruling places on me," Kerviel told Europe-1 radio.
Kerviel maintained in court that the bank and his bosses tolerated his massive risk-taking as long as it made money — a claim the bank strongly denied, saying he took great pains to cover up his actions.
"I have the feeling they wanted to make me pay for everybody and that Societe Generale had to be saved," he said.
Of the verdict, he said: "It's difficult, obviously, when you get hit on the head with a club that way."
Kerviel is appealing the ruling and says he hopes in the new trial "to prove once and for all that I wasn't the only one in the boat."
The bank says Kerviel made bets of up to 50 billion euros — more than the bank's total market value — on futures contracts on three European equity indices, and that he masked the size of his bets by recording fictitious offsetting transactions.
The 4.9 billion euro figure is the sum the bank says it lost unwinding Kerviel's complex positions in January 2008. It's a sum nobody realistically expects him to repay.
Kerviel said he is currently making about 900 euros ($1,245) a month working part-time as a computer consultant — he reduced his hours to concentrate on the trial.
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