Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Societe Generale ... lies, lies and all lies

So Societe Generale lost 7.1 bn last week, then restated this to $ 5.x bn because 2.x bn was a loss from the sub-prime plague.

And it was a rogue trader who opened SG's purse but was it a rouge rat who cast the sub-prime spell on them ? Who has been blamed for this ?

Daniel Bouton, the bank Chairman, is on a panhandling trip to get $ 5.x bn and keeps his job, while his resignation is still on the desk. A moral resignation nevertheless which was honorably presented the moment the s%6t hit the ceiling.

Consider the lies which has been hogging the news :

First it was "Rogue trader defrauds the bank of $ 7.1 bn"

There was no defrauding the bank. This guy was doing his job, a and that too too independently. There was no one checking his work ! Cool........ give me the bank treasury and I will also play the stock exchange at will.
Hey what happened to the 7.1 bn - now it is only 5.1 bn ! the other 2 bn is actually the hit SG got from the sub-prime exposure and sorry the Chairman goofed up in his communication to the Prime Minister and the Central Bank and the public and shareholders at large.
Its okay this is just a couple of billion here or there ! So what if I just messed the European market a tad while squaring all holdings.

And he was "a junior trader, recently promoted from the back office. so he has intimate knowledge of the systems and easily circumvented controls"

Another white lie - he has been trading since 2005 (?) so that is pretty recent ! Three years on the trading desk and he contributed €1.5 bn to the bank kitty with his trading profits last year. Pretty cool performance for a junior trader and I am sure there was a lot of Champagne and partying at the end of the year when the numbers came in. Will you be surprised to find that the Chairman sent a case of Dom alongwith a card ?

The Chairman said that he did not know him...

OK we shall take it at face value. The Chairman is not supposed to know everyone in the bank. And considering how loose the controls at SG are, I am apt to believe that there are hundreds / thousands of traders betting the banks pants everyday and making a billion plus for the bank every year.

The French government wants to protect this institution from takeover without realizing that it will be good for their health if this is allowed. At least the new owners will bring in a training program on 'Better Communication Skills for Chairmen"

I seem to be forgetting the information security and risk management aspect of this episode .... and will cover this in the next post.

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