French rogue trader freed after escaping fraud charges

PARIS, Jan 28, 2008 (AFP) – French judges placed rogue trader Jerome Kerviel under formal investigation on Monday but stopped short of charging him with fraud and decided he could walk free from police custody. Shares in Societe Generale, where Kerviel is alleged to have lost more than seven billion dollars, took a battering as allegations emerged that a board member was guilty of insider trading related to the scandal.

Kerviel was freed on bail after being placed under formal investigation for “breach of trust”, “falsifying and using falsified documents,” and “breaching IT procedures,” said his lawyer Elisabeth Meyer.

Judges rejected a bid to charge Kerviel, accused by the French banking giant of losing 4.9 billion euros (7.15 billion dollars), with the more serious crimes of “gross breach of trust” and “attempted fraud.”

“It’s a great victory,” Meyer said, “but it’s only justice being done.”

Kerviel, 31, who had been in police custody for more than 48 hours, walked free Monday after being told not to communicate with Societe Generale employees or to work in any financial services capacity until the case was resolved.

But no sooner had the ‘rogue trader’ handed over his passport — whi