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Timeline: Events in SocGen rogue trader case

PARIS (Reuters) - The following is a timeline of events concerning rogue trades at Societe Generale (SocGen) that caused $7 billion of losses at the French bank.

* 2007 - SocGen junior trader Jerome Kerviel starts building up large positions. As his losses mount he tries to cover up his positions by misappropriating the bank’s computer systems.

* Nov 2007 - the Eurex derivatives exchange questions SocGen about Kerviel’s trading positions. This is revealed by a Paris prosecutor on Jan 28, 2008.

* Jan 18, 2008 - SocGen shares plunge 8.2 percent in the last hour of trading, with traders and fund managers citing market speculation of huge write-downs at the bank.

* Jan 18 - The International Herald Tribune runs a report on its Web site saying that Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer has been monitoring the balance sheets of banks such as SocGen. The Bank of France later denies that Noyer ever mentioned the names of any specific banks when he made his comments.

* Jan 18 - Later that evening, a compliance officer notices a trade that has breached one of the bank’s thresholds. The officer telephones another brokerage, with which SocGen had apparently made the trade, and is told that the firm has no record of any such transaction taking place.

* Jan 19/20 - On Saturday, SocGen senior executives begin investigating suspicious trades which are traced to Kerviel. The trader is hauled in and top management questions him.

* Jan 20 - Kerviel is questioned by the SocGen board.

* Jan 20 - Bouton says he informs the Governor of the Bank of France and the head of France’s AMF stock market authority when he learns of the situation.

* Jan 20 - Kerviel, who is told by the bank after questioning that it plans to dismiss him, leaves. SocGen fails to hand him over to the police.

* Jan 21 - As people return after the weekend, SocGen management decides to liquidate Kerviel’s positions. Equity markets plunge that day, with many stock indexes suffering their worst one-day close since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

* Jan 21 - SocGen’s decision to close down the position in a falling market means the bank makes even more of a loss than it would have done in a more usual market environment. Market traders later wonder if the SocGen rogue trader was partly responsible for the global equity market slump.

* Jan 22 - The U.S. Federal Reserve stuns markets by announcing an emergency interest rate cut. It later says it was unaware of the SocGen rogue trader situation when it made its decision to slash rates by 75 basis points to 3.5 percent.

* Jan 23 - SocGen shares fall sharply again, closing down 4.2 percent. Traders and fund managers cite fresh rumors of write-downs at SocGen. Market speculation also swirls that some top SocGen bankers might have left the bank.

* Jan 24 0700 GMT - SocGen issues a statement saying it has uncovered a fraud resulting in losses of 4.9 billion euros. It says Bouton and Jean-Pierre Mustier, head of investment banking, tendered their resignations but these were not accepted. It also announces plans for a 5.5 billion euro capital increase.

* 1000 GMT - SocGen holds press conference to discuss the fraud. Bouton says the bank does not know the whereabouts of the trader whom it does not identify.

* 1525 GMT - SocGen sources identify the trader as Kerviel. A photo from the SocGen internal website is soon circulating.

*1537 GMT - SocGen issues a statement saying it has filed a formal complaint with the Nanterre Public Prosecutor against the trader. The complaint is based on three main charges: fraudulent falsification of banking records, use of such records and computer fraud.

* 1831 GMT - A source from the U.S. Federal Reserve says U.S. central bank did not know of the SocGen scandal when it made an emergency interest rate cut during that week.

* Jan 25 - French police carry out searches of the home of Kerviel and of the headquarters of SocGen.

* Jan 26 - Kerviel is taken into police custody in Paris.

* Jan 27 - SocGen issues a statement with further detail of how the fraud occurred. The bank also says the trader had ended up with a position of 50 billion euros which SocGen decided to unwind from Jan 21-23.

* Jan 28 - Kerviel is taken to appear before a judge. Prosecutor asks for him to be put in temporary detention.

* Jan 28 - Paris prosecutor says Kerviel admitted hiding his activities from superiors but added that Kerviel said other traders played fast and loose with bank rules.

* Jan 28 - Paris prosecutor reveals that in November 2007, the Eurex exchange had alerted SocGen to suspicions it had concerning Kerviel

* Jan 28 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy says SocGen’s management must face up their responsibilities in the affair. Sarkozy also says he hopes SocGen’s future can be guaranteed.

* Jan 28 - Kerviel released under judicial supervision.

* Jan 29 - French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde tells LCI television that SocGen is “in crisis.”

* Jan 30 - A SocGen board meeting decides that bank chief Daniel Bouton and his deputy Philippe Citerne should stay on.

* Jan 30 - SocGen sets up a special committee of independent directors to ensure that the cause and size of its rogue trading losses are fully accounted for.

* Jan 30 - French newspaper Le Figaro reports on its website that Bouton is “open to a friendly offer”. SocGen says the report is a baseless rumor.

* Jan 30 - Bouton appears on France 2 evening news. He says the bank has enough capital to stay independent and that the positive response of its staff and clients is an “answer” to the constant bid rumors.

* Jan 31 - Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the Eurogroup of euro-zone finance ministers, says a foreign bid for SocGen would not be shocking, while an adviser to Sarkozy says France would not surrender SocGen to a predator.

Sources: SocGen, French police, Paris prosecutor, statements.

Reporting by Paris newsroom; Editing by Quentin Bryar

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