Randomness (r_ness) wrote,
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Société Générale, France's second largest bank, loses €5 billion ($7 billion) because of fraud.

And the Financial Times live blogs the conference call:
(from http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2008/01/24/10432/live-blogging-the-socgen-conference-call/)

Some highlights:

9.56 - Music, music. There’s noise in the background. There’s no official message to let you know where you are. A chap from the BBC asks a female journalist with limited English whether he’s in the right place. Patrick Hoskings from the Times also chimes in. “I don’t think there’s anyone official on this call,” a mystery voice explains. No one knows what’s going on - it’s chaos before the official call has even begun.

10.01 - “we’re all waiting,” explains one journo to two new arrivals to the conference call. No sign of any official/SocGen action just yet. Just half Europe’s financial media.

10.03 - very loud banging in the background. Someone makes a gag about a guillotine in action.

10.12 - the chaos continues. They’re looking for our correspondent apparently. Starting to see how this bank managed to let an plain vanilla futures trader build up sufficiently vast positions to lose €5bn. They don’t seem to have mastered the basics of telecommunications.

10.21 - there’s a forceful type online complaining that the bank must restart the conference call. In the background: “we are probably…nothing to do with the core activities….derivative product.” Hope you’re finding this as insightful as we are.

10.22 - Is this a conspiracy? Presumably the problem is only affecting the English translation. We’ve heard about it being difficult to get on as an English-speaker in the French banks.

10.39 - “because that person had been working for many years in other banks and our back office, that person managed to construct…..managed to hide these positions with other positions that were entirely fictitious”

The trader managed to avoid any types of control

11.04 - detected at end of Dec - because of mistake by the fraudster.

11.14 - the man was let go with his passport, it seems. “perhaps we made a mistake.”

From the comments:

“one dodgy bloke ran rings around our risk management”

Soc Gen has “no idea where this person is now”. reassuring.
Tags: money
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