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France Banking Jérôme Kerviel Société Générale

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Rogue trader Kerviel back in court

Jérôme Kerviel in court last Monday REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A French appeals court began hearings today into whether former rogue trader Jerome Kerviel should repay his ex-employer Societe Generale the 4.9 billion euros he lost in unauthorised trades in 2008.

However, the trial may have to wait the outcome of another trial launched by Kerviel, on Monday, for a retrial of the criminal fraud case that saw him sentenced to three years in jail.

At issue is the degree of responsibility that France's third largest bank bore in the affair, which could have bankrupted Societe Generale had Kerviel's trades not been discovered in time.

One of Kerviel’s lawyers, David Koubbi, said he would ask for a delay until after the Paris court's ruling, which is set for March 21.

He cited the revelation last Sunday by news websites Mediapart and 20 Minute that a former deputy prosecutor in the case had said it was "obvious" that Societe Generale was aware of Kerviel's dealings.

According to the reports a top detective in the case secretly recorded the Paris deputy prosecutor, Chantal de Leiris in June 2015 saying it was clear everyone in finance knew about it.

"When the subject comes up, anyone even a little bit involved in finance laughs, knowing very well that Societe Generale knew... it's obvious, obvious,” de Leiris is alleged to have said.

Koubbi said any further conviction of Kerviel would be "a continuation of this judicial dysfunction that we condemn."

Branded a crook by his ex-employer and a scapegoat by his defenders, 39-year-old Kerviel says his bosses turned a blind eye to his dodgy dealings.

Societe Generale on Monday rejected what it called "pseudo-revelations" and a "new media manipulation" in the case.

The bank's lawyer Jean Veil dismissed as "nonsense" the idea that the bank knew of the rogue trading.

It is "implausible that those directly above Jerome Kerviel or the people who worked with him every day knew but didn't say anything," Veil said.

He said Kerviel's colleagues would have no interest in covering up his risky manoeuvres for fear of jeopardising their bonuses.

Kerviel's conviction in 2010 of breach of trust, forgery and entering false data was upheld on appeal.

He was also ordered to repay to Societe Generale the 4.9 billion euros he lost.

Kerviel left prison in September 2014 after spending less than five months behind bars.