PARIS, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The following is a timeline of events concerning the 4.9 billion euro ($7.2 billion) fraud at France’s second-largest bank Societe Generale (SocGen) (SOGN.PA).
* 2007 - SocGen junior trader Jerome Kerviel starts building up large positions. As his losses mount he tries to cover up his positions by hacking into the bank’s computer systems.
* Jan 18, 2008 - SocGen shares plunge 8.2 percent, 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 said this.
* 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. Bouton later admits, at a news conference, that “perhaps we made a mistake in that respect”.
* Jan 21 - As people return to their trading desks 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 terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
* 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 rumours 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 4.9 billion euro fraud at the bank. It says Bouton and Jean-Pierre Mustier, head of investment banking, tendered their resignations but these were not accepted.
* 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 of Kerviel from the SocGen internal website is soon circulating around dealing rooms and fund management houses in Paris.
* 1831 GMT - A source from the U.S. Federal Reserve says U.S. central bank did not know of the rogue trader scandal at SocGen when it made an emergency interest rate cut this week.
* Jan 25 - Kerviel’s whereabouts remain unknown. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Suzy Valentine)