Societe Generale US$7bn loss trader ‘not on the run’: lawyer

PARIS, Jan 24, 2008 (AFP) – The trader blamed for the near five-billion-euro fraud at French banking giant Societe Generale is “not on the run”, his lawyer said Thursday. The Paris prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation into the scandal while scores of shareholders lodged suit against the bank for fraud and misconduct.

“I can confirm that my client is not on the run,” Elisabeth Meyer told AFP.

The bank has blamed the trader, Jerome Kerviel, for the loss of 4.9 billion euros (7.15 billion dollars) — one of the biggest fraud cases in history.

“(Kerviel) was told verbally on January 20 by his employer, Societe Generale, that he was being dismissed and was asked not to show up at work the following Monday, January 21,” Meyer added.

She said her client was still awaiting formal written notice of his sacking.

In an earlier television interview, she specified that Kerviel “was at the disposal of the judiciary”.

A member of his lawyer’s firm told AFP on condition of anonymity that Kerviel had been in the firm’s offices earlier Thursday.

Bank chairman Daniel Bouton told reporters he did not know where the trader was located.