A former junior trader for France's second-largest bank who was ordered Wednesday to pay back a staggering 4.9 billion euros (about $7 billion) in damages to his ex-employer is painting himself as the victim of a financial system that runs on greed.
Only the Bill Gates or the Warren Buffetts of the world could come up with the breathtaking sum an appeals court demanded Jerome Kerviel reimburse to Societe Generale as punishment for committing one of the biggest trade frauds in history. Kerviel says he will fight back with a new appeal to France's highest court.
The court upheld in full the initial 2010 guilty verdict and sentence, which includes a three-year prison term, against the 35-year-old rogue trader.
He sees himself not as a fraudster but as a victim of a system that turned a blind eye to his colossal positions in late 2007 and early 2008 as long as they made money for the bank.
Hours after the verdict, Kerviel announced his plan to appeal, which he has until Monday to file.
"I will continue to fight," he told RTL radio. "I think the judgment is protecting Societe Generale."
Kerviel called on people in banking, notably Societe Generale employees, who have information to come forward and serve as witnesses. "I'm looking for the truth to be told."
Kerviel, who never profited personally from his unauthorized trades, said he had thought the court might acquit him.
"I absolutely didn't expect this ruling," he said in his first comments after slipping out the side door of the courtroom. "What happened today is a call for me to put a bullet in my head," he said. He added, when asked, that he does "absolutely not" envision suicide.
The lawyer for Societe Generale, Jean Veil, called the verdict "a great satisfaction," particularly the court's demand the former trader reimburse the 4.9 billion euros ($7 billion at the time) that it cost the bank to unwind his astronomical positions.