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Visiting France

French ex-trader tells Societe Generale to refund tax-payers' money

media Jerome Kerviel at Paris' administrative court to protest against a generous tax break awarded to his former bank Societe Generale. October 15, 2015 Christina Okello pour RFI

Former French stock-trader Jerome Kerviel, famous for losing one of France's largest banks nearly 5 billion euros, has criticized a decision by the administration to award Societe Generale a 2-billion tax refund.

"The 2-billion tax refund should never have been authorized," Jerome Kerviel told reporters outside Paris' administrative court on Thursday.

Visibly dishevelled with lines under his eyes, Kerviel arrived at the court early on Thursday morning, accompanied by his lawyer and a spokesperson for the Green Party, for a hearing to decide whether tax payers' money should have gone towards paying-off Societe Generale's losses of nearly 5 billion euros.

Green party spokesperson Julien Bayou, famous for once requisitioning empty properties as part of the Black Thursday squatters group, doesn't think so.

"The tax payer bailed out Societe Generale because the bank claimed it was the victim of fraud," Bayou told RFI, "but the justice system has proven this was not the case."

Societe Generale, France's second-biggest bank, which long had a reputation for cutting-edge financial engineering, was faulted by the Banking commission and France's Appeal Court for failing to put in place sufficient risk controls.

Jerome Kerviel, who has become symptomatic of a financial system gone haywire with greed, has always maintained the bank knew about his huge bets- up to 50 billion euros at times, or more- and chose to turn a blind eye so long as he was making them money.

"There is a report which gets to the heart of this case and can answer whether or not Societe Generale should have been refunded," Bayou continued. He and Kerviel want the finance ministry to make the document public.

"Either the bank had good reason to receive the 2-billion tax refund," David Koubbi, Jerome Kerviel's lawyer told RFI, "then in that case, it should be made known to the public. Otherwise the bank had no right to receive this sum, and should refund the administration the 2.2 billion euros it owes," Koubbi concluded.

Thursday's hearing is designed to put pressure on the Finance ministry to release the secret report, that has remained a secret since 2012.

The Green party representative has been battling for three years to break down this wall of secrecy, in vain. Bayou will know in two weeks time whether his latest attempt has worked, when the court delivers its decision.

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