crimeandpunishment

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT - REALITY AND FANTASY

SoGen

France

Rogue Trader Loses $5 Billion, spends 5 months in Jail

The Accused

Jérôme Kerviel, financial trader

SoGen

France

The Crime

“The Société Générale trader lost nearly $5 Billion in early 2008 on an unauthorized trade. Kerviel was banned from the financial industry and was required to pay $6.37 billion. He was found walking from Rome to France, before being sent to jail.

Société Générale is a French multinational banking and financing service, also known as SoGen.

Wall Street Journal | June 7, 2010 | David Gauthier-Villars

Real Punishment

On September 4, 2014, Kerviel was released on parole from his 3-year sentence after serving five months in prison. During his stay, he had private quarters. Post-prison, he is required to wear a tracking tag and stay home on week-day nights.

Wall Street Journal | September 8, 2014 | Inti Landauro
The law in our hands

This case exemplifies all that is wrong with the criminal justice system, in particular the incredibly lax treatment of white collar criminals. In pursuit of a big bonus, this trader made an unauthorized bet that lost almost $5 billion, and put his company and an entire swath of the financial system at risk. Yet he served only five months in jail.  Someone who stole a car could receive more jail time.  The punishment of financiers should be ruthless, and correspond to the magnitude of their crimes.  Kerviel should be rotting in jail, although we would allow him to teach other inmates how to use computer systems, although hopefully not in the same way he used them. 

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