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Kerviel to Be Freed After Less Time in Jail Than Adoboli

Former Societe Generale Trader Jerome Kerviel
Former Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel’s transgressions first came to light in January 2008. Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

Jerome Kerviel, the former Societe Generale SA trader convicted of fraudulent transactions that led to a record loss at the bank, is getting out of jail early.

Kerviel, to be released Sept. 8, will be monitored with an electronic bracelet, his lawyer, David Koubbi, said yesterday. Sentenced to three years, he served about five months behind bars, including almost six weeks during the investigation.

The 4.9 billion-euro ($6.3 billion) loss resulting from his trades amounts to about 32 million euros for each day Kerviel spent locked up. The 37-year-old Frenchman spent less time in jail than others infamous for financial misdeeds.

“It shows lack of severity,” said Stephane Bonifassi, a lawyer who specializes in financial crime in Paris. “It’s emblematic of some lack of interest in punishing financial and economic crime” in France.

Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in the U.S. for running a Ponzi scheme that cost investors billions. Kweku Adoboli, sentenced to seven years after causing a $2.3 billion loss at UBS AG, has been in a British jail since November 2012, and served nine months before the trial. Nick Leeson was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in Singapore in 1995 for the 862 million pounds ($1.41 billion) in trading losses that brought down Barings Plc, and served 3 1/2 years.

Italian Trek

Kerviel was taken into custody in May on the Italian border after a months-long walk that followed a brief encounter with Pope Francis in Rome. Kerviel’s unauthorized trades, which first came to light in January 2008, rocked the financial world and stirred a national debate about the culture of banking even before the financial crisis hit Europe.

“Jerome Kerviel will start again the course of a normal life,” Koubbi told journalists. He will live in an apartment in Paris and has a job contract, he said.

The Cour the Cassation, France’s highest appeals court, in March rebuffed Kerviel’s efforts to overturn a 2012 verdict that found him guilty of abusing the bank’s trust, faking documents and entering false data into computers that resulted in Societe Generale’s multibillion loss.

The Cour de Cassation, however, accepted Kerviel’s appeal contesting the bank’s charge that he was solely responsible for the loss. A Versailles appeals court is scheduled to start a new civil trial this month to assess details of the loss.

Jean Veil, Societe Generale’s lawyer, declined to comment on Kerviel’s early release from jail.

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