Daniel Bouton, the top boss of Societe Generale, the bank hit by a massively expensive rogue trading scandal, is coming under increasing pressure from the French government to quit.
Speaking about Bouton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: “You can’t wash your hands of responsibility” while Economy Minister Christine Lagarde commented: “Board members are there to decide if the person in charge is the best placed to run the ship when it is pitching a bit, or whether they should change the captain.”
As they spoke, France’s financial market regulator said it has opened an investigation into Societe Generale but gave no details on the nature of the probe. A group of Societe Generale shareholders, had filed a legal complaint Monday asking investigators to look into possible insider trading.
The case remains a major talking point in France. One man said the trader at the centre of the scandal may have been released but will still face action. He added “It’s not over yet. I’m going to follow the story and see where it leads.”
Another said the bank’s boss should resign: “In this sort of case, responsibility rests with the head of the company. He’s the boss, five billion euros are missing, and the buck stops with him.”
The weakening of the bank from junior trader Jerome Kerviel’s losses has led to takeover speculation. Prime Minister Francois Fillon reacted to that by saying the government intends it to remain French.
As for Kerviel, there was no sign of him at his family’s Paris home after he was freed for the moment with the judge declining to bring the fraud charges that prosecutors wanted.