International News in Brief: Rogue ex-trader jailed after 1,500km protest march

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An ex-trader’s 1,500 kilometer pilgrimage in protest of his three-year sentence has culminated in a jail cell.

Jérôme Kerviel, a former derivatives trader who was convicted of causing billions of euros in losses while working at the French bank Société Générale, walked from Vatican City to Paris and turned himself into authorities minutes before the midnight deadline, the New York Times reported.

“The fight will continue no matter what happens,” he said before being rushed into an unmarked police car. “Société Générale, and finance in general, have not heard the last from me.”

After losing two appeals of his conviction, Kerviel had been ordered to surrender and begin his three-year sentence for fraud.

He had been convicted in 2010 for his part in amassing 50 billion euros in unauthorised trades.

While he’s never denied entering fake trades and falsifying documents, Kerviel insists that his bosses turned a blind eye to his activities and even encouraged him to continue.

In February, he bizarrely emerged in the Vatican City to meet with Pope Francis. He said this meeting inspired him to embark on his pilgrimage and spread a message about the “tyranny” of the financial markets.
 

Maverick American hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has given a series of tips on “how to invest like an activist”.

Speaking to Bloomberg TV, the founder and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management said his key to successful activism - which is when a shareholder behaves like an owner - is to make controversial investments.

The tips he lives by include:
  1. Make a bold call that nobody believes in.
  2. When all the money goes one way, go the other way.
  3. Do your homework. Ackman looks for businesses he calls simple predictable free cash flow generative dominant companies that he can buy at a heavily discounted rate. If the problem is a management, strategy, cost-structure or asset issue, it’s a problem he can solve.
Ackman also said the best advice he’d ever received was when he was a student at Harvard business school and famous investor Richard Rainwater paid a visit.

The budding young investor asked for advice about whether it was a crazy idea to start his own investment firm straight out of university.

“[Rainwater] said, you know Bill, you don’t need to be old to be right,” Ackman said.

He then launched his own firm at age 26.

 
Boko Haram, the West African extremist Islam militia that has gained global infamy through the mass kidnappings of schoolgirls in Nigeria, is financed by fake charities, drug cartels and extortion.

In light of these revelations the US state department has announced plans to counter the group that has been injecting fear into Nigeria by implementing a counterterrorism finance program, that “aims to restrict Boko Haram’s ability to raise, move and store money”, International Business Times reported.

Although initially formed in the early 2000s, Boko Haram has grown significantly more violent and intense since the original leader was killed and replaced by his second-in-command, and it is now classified as a foreign terrorist organisation.

Over the past two years it has reigned over much of northeastern Nigeria, the institution of Sharia law, tax collection and an Islamic education system to recruit youth to its cause.

Such an expansion has required increasing funding, which has led to Boko Haram quickly improving its methods of raising finance.

This includes the clever use of a decentralised distribution network that employs an Islamic model of money transfer called “hawala”, which is based on an honour system, a global network of agents and is traceless, experts say.

“The very features which make hawala attractive to legitimate customers - efficiency, anonymity and lack of a paper trail - also make the system attractive for the transfer of illicit funds,” a report from the U.S. Treasury Department said.

 

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