Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Will France Guillotine Societe Generale CEO?

CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo jetted over to Paris to interview French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde about the Soc. Gen. scandal. Read down the page for particulars, but Jerome Kerviel pulled a fast one on international securities markets. Societe Generale bank was hit hard and President Sarkozy is angry that Soc Gen’s CEO hid the debacle from everyone including his government. He wants heads to roll and Soc Gen. and he’s not alone in wanting to bring back the guillotine.

Bartiromo’s interview with regard was intriguing and French “stonewalling” appeared to be a more acceptable practice than it is in the U.S. A polite and dignified Christine LaGarde was reassuring in a trilling voice and with great diplomatic aplomb. Bartiromo might have been doing a lot of thinking to herself:

“Nice lady, but where do they get these idiots?”

It developed later that Jerome Kerviel’s rogue trading practices were known several months ago when a Dutch derivatives firm made a complaint against Societe Generale and the young trader.

To me, it all looks like bumbling, fumbling, rationalizing and covering. America killed Ken Lay for far less. France seems to smile and dote upon the enfant terrible and the powerful ancient bank which must ultimately be held responsible.

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