* Former JPMorgan trader indicted by U.S.
* 'Keeps himself to himself' - Sarrazac restaurateur
* Frenchman Grout living in family holiday home
* Villagers were unaware of link to scandal
By Ingrid Melander
SARRAZAC, France, Aug 14 Hundreds of miles from
the bustling trading rooms where he worked with the "London
Whale", a former JPMorgan trader has taken refuge in a French
hamlet where few have heard of the $6.2 billion scandal to which
he is being linked.
U.S. authorities on Wednesday filed charges against Julien
Grout for crimes related to the scandal, including wire fraud,
conspiracy and the falsifying of books and records.
But in sun-drenched Sarrazac, a village of two dozen stone
houses built around a medieval church in southern France, the
affair had barely registered before this week.
In his parents' picturesque holiday home, with slate roof,
mown grass and an old Citroen car outside, former JPMorgan Chase
& Co junior trader Grout is keeping a low profile and
settling in with his wife and two daughters.
French national Grout was indicted along with Javier
Martin-Artajo, who worked in London as the direct supervisor of
Bruno Iksil, the trader who became known as "the London Whale"
in the JPMorgan scandal in which bad derivatives bets ended up
costing the largest U.S. bank more than $6.2 billion.
A U.S. senate report said that Grout, who reported to Iksil
and was in charge of recording the prices of positions on the
trading book, warned his superior in a recorded phone
conversation in March 2012 that the team's reporting strategy
would be "a big fiasco" and end up in "big drama".
Grout is the lowest-ranked person targeted so far in the
investigation, but several sources familiar with the
prosecutors' thinking say that they are trying to build an
unbroken chain from the bottom up to Martin-Artajo.
"He has just arrived, he seems to be a very nice guy," said
Sarrazac mayor Habib Fenni, who met Grout a day earlier and was
not aware of JPMorgan's troubles or the role the French
village's new resident is alleged to have played in them.
Village restaurant owner Chantal Guerby, meanwhile,
described Grout as "a nice guy who keeps himself to himself".
Neighbours said that Grout's parents have been coming to
their holiday home for many years, with Grout also visiting from
London once in a while.
The criminal investigation is focusing on whether anyone
responsible for the trades deliberately tried to hide the losses
by inflating the value at which they were recorded on JPMorgan's
books at the height of the scandal.
Grout's lawyer, Edward Little, says his client has done
"We're confident he will eventually be cleared of all
wrongdoing," he told Reuters in New York before the indictment.
"He's in France only because he moved there several months ago,
not because he was fleeing anything."
Grout, who is in his mid-thirties, declined to answer
questions from a Reuters reporter in Sarrazac on Tuesday, but a
source with knowledge of the matter has said that he will offer
to face the charges in the United States on the condition that
he is granted bail.
Outside the family holiday home, Grout's father would only
say "no comment" when asked if his son was available to speak.
In a brief telephone conversation, after his mother said she
would ask if he wanted to talk or not, an unidentified man said:
"No comment. Goodbye. Have a nice day."
Reuters reported last week that Iksil, who earned his
nickname after making outsized bets in a thinly traded
derivatives market, is cooperating with the U.S. authorities and
will not face any charges.
It is not clear when Martin-Artajo will appear in court in
the United States. The Spaniard still lives in London but is
travelling abroad on a summer holiday.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York and the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), along with regulators
in Britain, all opened investigations last year into the costly
The case is still open, but JPMorgan is close to agreeing a
deal with the SEC, which would require the bank to pay a penalty
and admit faults, a source familiar with the matter said.
This all seems a million miles from tiny Sarrazac, located
in a lush, rural region about a two-hour drive from Bordeaux,
with the silence broken only by the half-hourly church bells.
There is a hospital away from the heart of the village and
local businesses include a bakery and a real estate agent. But