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Is Jerome Kerviel the new Nick Leeson?

Reports have emerged that the rogue trader responsible for the EUR5 billion trading loss at Société Générale is 30-year-old Frenchman Jérome Kerviel. Apparently sources within the bank leaked the name to the press.  

The incident is, inevitably, being compared with previous rogue traders, particularly Barings Bank rogue trader Nick Leeson.

In his article, the FT's John Gapper explores the "striking" similarities between the cases. Not least that both Leeson and Kerviel worked in back offices before being promoted to traders and both used knowledge of the back office (and in Kerviel's the case the middle office too) to conceal losses, etc.

Like Leeson, Kerviel is set to become infamous for his actions at SocGen and could profit handsomely from the incident down the line.

In the absence of Kerviel to interview and interrogate, newspapers and broadcasters are bidding big money for interviews with Leeson, according to a Reuters report.

Leeson cuurently earns up to £6000 for appearing as an after dinner speaker, says the report. Now his UK agent Neil Martin has reportedly said that Leeson will give "a limited number of interviews" to the highest bidders.

As well as speaking on the after dinner circuit, Leeson heads up Galway Football Club and is also reported to be a regular Internet poker player on the Celebpoker gambling site.

As pointed out in the Reuters report, Leeson's own Web site states that he was able to "capitalise on his experiences" and was paid a "substantial fee" for the newspaper serialisation of his book 'Rogue Trader', which was later turned into a film.

So once he comes out of the other side of this mess, Kerviel could make a fair bit on the book, film rights, t-shirt etc. He could even try selling some of his memorabilia on eBay - like a trader's jacket perhaps?

But in the meantime Kerviel could perhaps benefit from spending a bit of time reading Leeson's self-help book - 'Back from the Brink - Coping with Stress'.


Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 25 January, 2008, 03:23Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Having seen Leeson present about 2 years ago, with members of Barings AM in the audience, he made a point of stating that all of his income from the book, the film, interviews, presentations and after-dinner speaking were taken from him immediately by the courts, the tax-man and other creditors who are still chasing him for fines and monies owed. He is only allowed a monthly living allowance from the money he makes and if he is to be believed, he never expects to pay off these debts…

I’d be very surprised indeed if Jerome Kerviel does come out of this profiting handsomely, especially when you take into account several years behind bars.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 25 January, 2008, 11:10Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Leeson may only be "receiving a living allowance" - but a career as after-dinner speaker etc - hardly badly off. Especially given the tremendous knock-on impact these things have on other people's lives. Economies stutter or fail - people lose jobs. Genuine hardship ensues for many people. Scope here for creative sentencing in future - a stint as a cleaner maybe. 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 25 January, 2008, 14:15Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Have a listen to Nick Leeson's interview on the BBC News.

As well as discussing the SocGGen fraud Leeson says that on his release from gaol he was presented with "opportunities" not available to other prisoners. He says he had opportunities to re-build his life and now has a "comfortable" life.

Good for him.

Although he played a major part in the drama, it wasn't just his actions that caused the collapse of Barings. There were management and system failures all round. And to be fair, Leeson has paid the price for his own actions with a long stint in a Singapore gaol.

Like the Barings fraud, the SocGen fraud can't be the result of just one lone trader, despite what the French bank claims.

But it is probable that if Jérome Kerviel is found guilty and is sent down, then he too will have "opportunities" available to him when he gets out.

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