Daniel Bouton, who headed Société Générale until April 2009, was one of the witnesses today at Jerome Kerviel's appeal trial in Paris. It was to be expected: He laughed away the plot theory that Kerviel's lawyer is trying to plant as a defense strategy. “This theory (that Société Générale would have used Kerviel's account to disguise other losses, disconnected from the rogue trader's fraudulent operations but linked to the bank's positions in the subprime market) is baseless,” he said. “It has no credibility. I don't understand the rationale,” he went on. “I am supposed to dig a hole in order to hide another hole? It doesn't make sense.”
As far as he is concerned, such a vision is obviously warped. “This is the equivalent of people saying that the images of the planes hitting the Twin Towers were fabricated,” he concluded.
Before his testimony, other witnesses called by the defense tried to lend credibility to the plot theory, but to no avail. One of them, Jacques Werren, a financial consultant who used to be a deputy director at Matif in Paris, declared that “there was no real loss on Kerviel's position.” Why create it then? “It would have meant much more damage for Société Générale to acknowledge that it had had losses linked to the subprime market,” he said. “It was easier to blame an isolated rogue trader.”
The head judge of the Paris appeal court was, once again, nonplused.