Global Business

Report: SEC, Justice, Open Société Générale Probes

Stock sales, alleged criminal activity lure investigators.
Stephen TaubFebruary 4, 2008

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justive have reportedly launched investigations related to the trading scandal at Société Générale SA.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into sales of stock of Société Générale by Robert A. Day, a board member and investment manager with Trust Company of the West, as well as two foundations associated with him, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Further, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y., has opened a criminal probe linked to the French bank, according to the newspaper, which noted that the precise focus of this probe is not immediately clear.

Day and the foundations sold about $140 million of Société Générale shares beginning about two weeks before the bank told its board about its trading losses, according to the report. Day reportedly still owns close to 1.9 million shares of the bank.

The SEC can investigate Société Générale because its American depositary receipts are traded in the United States.

Josh Peksarsky, a spokesman for Day, told the Journal: “Mr. Day and his family’s trusts and charitable foundations sold Societe Generale shares in December and January, which was a window of time where such trades were permitted under Société Générale’s trading policies. All required government disclosures were made. No inside information was used in any way with respect to these sales. Mr. Day has pledged his cooperation into any inquiries of this matter.”

The probes stem from the scandal spawned by trades made by Jerome Kerviel that resulted in a $7.25 billion loss last month.