Saturday, February 09, 2008

Latest SocGen Controversy Dept

From Mike Burger by way of August comes this disturbing development hinting that mismanagement at SocGen may have involved cruelty as well as incompetence. (For those of you who don't live and work in the world of trading: Jerome Kerviel, a junior trader at the French bank Société Générale, recently managed to lose 7 billion dollars before his supervisors noticed. Oops.)

PARIS (AP): FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES of rogue trader Jerome Kerviel last night blamed his $7 billion losses on unbearable levels of stress brought on by a punishing near 30-hour working week.

Kerviel was known to start work as early as nine in the morning and still be at his desk at five or even five-thirty, often with just an hour and a half for lunch. One colleague, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "He was, how you say, une workaholique. I have a family and a mistress so I would leave the office at around 2 p.m. at the latest, unless of course I was on strike. Mais, mon Dieu, Jerome was tied to that desk. One day I returned to the office at 3 p.m. because I had forgotten my beret, and there he was, fast asleep on the photocopier. At first I assumed he was dead but then I remembered he'd been working for almost six hours non-stop."

As the losses mounted, Kerviel tried to conceal his bad trades by covering them with an rich red wine sauce, later switching to delicate pastry shells. At one point he managed to dispose of dozens of transactions by hiding them inside vol-au-vents and staging a fake reception for colleagues.

Last night a spokesman for his employers denied that Kerviel was overworked.

Related information: For those of you wishing you learn more about the fascinating French culture, I recommend starting with "The Complete Military History of France."


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