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Rogue trader Kerviel behind bars

Rogue trader Jerome Kerviel was behind bars on Monday after giving himself up to French authorities to begin a three-year prison term for his role in the near collapse of Societe Generale bank. 

NICE, France: Rogue trader Jerome Kerviel was behind bars on Monday after giving himself up to French authorities to begin a three-year prison term for his role in the near collapse of Societe Generale bank.

The 37-year-old, who has spent the last two months on a walk from Rome to protest the "tyranny of the markets," was arrested by French police at midnight after crossing the Italian-French border at the Riviera town of Menton.

After an overnight stay in a police station there, he was transferred on Monday morning to a prison in the nearby city of Nice.

The ex-trader brought one of Europe's biggest banks to the brink of bankruptcy in 2008 with wildly risky trades which resulted in a loss of 4.9 billion euros.

Kerviel was convicted in 2010 of breach of trust, forgery and entering false data in relation to the unauthorised trades. His conviction and three-year prison term were upheld in March but an appeals court overturned an order that he pay damages equivalent to the bank's losses.

The prosecutor in Nice, Eric Bedos told AFP that Kerviel "is being detained in the prison at Nice until further notice".

Kerviel has become something of a cause celebre in France, winning support from prominent left-wingers and leading figures in the Roman Catholic Church who believe he has been unfairly made a scapegoat for the shortcomings of the entire banking system.

He casts himself as a simple soul caught up in an orgy of greed.

Kerviel had been ordered to present himself at a French police station by Sunday at the latest in order to begin his prison term.

He finally complied with the order having said at the weekend he would stay in Italy until he got a response to his request for President Francois Hollande to intervene in the case.

Kerviel said he would not seek a presidential pardon but had asked Hollande to grant immunity to potential witnesses who could testify in his favour.

He has said he wanted to detail to Hollande "the serious failings" that led to his conviction.

Kerviel has never denied taking on wild bets -- at one point staking 50 billion euros of the bank's money -- but maintains that his bosses were just as much at fault as he was.

The trader was earning a relatively modest 50,000 euros a year in basic salary when the scandal erupted in January 2008.

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