Société Générale security loopholes not fixed until end of year

French bank Société Générale expects to have remedies in place by year end for the technical and procedural flaws that allowed rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel to build a fraudulent trading position that cost the bank €4.9 billion.

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French bank Société Générale expects to have remedies in place by year end for the technical and procedural flaws that allowed rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel to build a fraudulent trading position that cost the bank €4.9 billion.

Late Friday, the bank published the final report of a special committee that investigated the fraud, along with a summary of auditor PriceWaterhouseCoopers' review of the new controls the company plans to implement, and another study by the bank's general inspection department.

That department said it has found evidence that points to Kerviel having an accomplice in the bank's middle office, but that it has been unable to question the employee concerned because of the ongoing criminal investigation into Kerviel's activities.

Kerviel's job as an arbitrage trader was to make transactions in pairs, buying and selling similar assets to exploit the minute and fleeting differences in prices that exist in markets.

Instead, he took massive bets on the market moving in a particular direction, faking the paired transactions. He was discovered when those bets went wrong, exposing the bank to massive losses.

The special committee concluded that Kerviel was able to fake the transactions because he was inadequately supervised, and because his direct supervisor lacked the necessary trading experience: When challenged, Kerviel had been able to allay suspicion by producing what ultimately turned out to be faked e-mail messages justifying his position.

Nevertheless, the bank's risk control, financial and compliance departments, and its middle and back offices, generally followed the required procedures, the committee found -- although the procedures themselves were flawed, as they did not identify or stop Kerviel's activities.

Kerviel, having previously worked in the back office, knew how to avoid many of the controls. For example, knowing that certain transactions were only verified at the end of the month, he would cancel the fictitious part of a pair of trades just before the check, replacing them with new ones before the bank's risk management system noticed the unpaired trades.

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