It was a clearly stunned Jerome Kerviel who appeared on the French evening news tonight, at the invitation of star anchorman David Pujadas, from France 2 channel. On camera, the French rogue trader confirmed, as his lawyer David Koubbi had suggested outside the court room earlier in the afternoon, after the appeal court had upheld the sentence handed by the lower court, that he was appealing to the highest court, in the hope his sentence be quashed.
Not only was he sentenced to three years in prison, but he is supposed to pay back the €4.9 billion ($6.4 billion) that Société Générale lost while unwinding his trades in 2008, and is barred from working in financial markets for life. “I wasn't prepared for this verdict,” he said with his usual sullen, childlike face. “To reimburse €4.9 billion, this is not a verdict, this is a punishment, a real social death,” he added, pointing out that the defense had presented new evidence during the appeal hearings, although the court deemed it “ludicrous” in its ruling.
Kerviel's prison term is now suspended because of his new appeal. It should take a year and a half for it to be lodged and heard. In any case, Kerviel said he couldn't imagine sitting in jail, ever. “If my mother dies while I am in prison, I will not survive, I couldn't take it,” he added, playing, as he has done before, on the average French person’s sympathy.
The anchorman asked: “You were very young when all this happened, how do you see, now, the young trader you were then? “I hate who I was,” Kerviel answered. “But I was caught in this circle, in this closed-up trading room, where people were encouraged to do these things.”
While Kerviel reiterated that he didn't reject his responsibilities, he added that he can't accept that Société Générale maintains it knew nothing of his fraudulent trades.
He then launched a somewhat desperate appeal to other traders. “To my former co-workers from Société Générale,” he said, “I am begging you, please, come out and help me, if you have information, new evidence, e-mails, whatever!”