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Scandal at Societe Generale: Rogue Trader or Willing Accomplice?

Abstract

This case covers the scandal that occurred in 2008 at Société Générale when one trader, Jérôme Kerviel, lost the prominent French bank nearly €5 billion through his unauthorized trading. The case describes Kerviel's schemes as well as SocGen's internal monitoring and reporting processes, organizational structures, and culture so that students reading the case can identify and discuss the shortcomings of the firm's risk management practices. The case and epilogue also describe the French government's and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde's reactions to the scandal (e.g., imposition of a €4 million fine and increased regulations), prompting students to consider the role of government in overseeing that healthy risk management practices are followed in key industries (such as banking) that are highly entwined with entire economies. Finally, the case encourages students—during class discussion—to critically consider whether it is truly possible for one rogue trader to act alone, which elements in a work environment enable or even encourage risky behavior, and who should be held accountable when such scandals occur. Interestingly, this case highlights a story that is not unique. Prior to Kerviel's transgressions were the similar scandals of Nick Leeson at Barings Bank and Toshihide Iguchi at Daiwa Bank, yet history has repeated itself. This case gives students a vivid example of the dangers of internal, self-inflicted risk on organizations, and it opens a discussion on how to avoid it.

Type

Case

Author(s)

Russell Walker

Date Published

Citations

Walker, Russell. Scandal at Societe Generale: Rogue Trader or Willing Accomplice?. Case 5-313-505 (KEL766).

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