Heavyweight Paris lawyers to clash in Kerviel trial

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (BestGrowthStock) – The trial of former Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel will witness a confrontation between two of Paris’s best-known lawyers — Olivier Metzner and Jean Veil.

Defending Kerviel is Metzner, the cigar-smoking barrister whose clients include ex-Panama dictator Manuel Noriega, one-time Vivendi boss Jean-Marie Messier and former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Representing Societe Generale is Jean Veil. Veil is the son of Simone Veil, the widely admired survivor of Nazi concentration camps who went on to become a French minister.

Veil’s clients include former French President Jacques Chirac, who is the subject of a probe into the alleged misuse of public funds while he was mayor of Paris, and tennis star Richard Gasquet, who was cleared of drug abuse charges.

DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE FENCE

Metzner and Veil come from starkly contrasting social backgrounds.

Veil, born in 1947, grew up in a relatively prosperous setting and attended the private Ecole Alscanienne in Paris, from where he went on to study law at the University of Paris’ prestigious Assas Pantheon faculty.

Metzner, born two years after Veil, grew up in the Normandy countryside, the son of a farmer. He had a more modest education than Veil, attending the local state school at Flers followed by a law degree at the University of Caen.

And while Veil has made his name dealing mainly with high-profile corporate and financial cases, Metzner’s first big breakthroughs were in the seedier world of gangsters and violent crime.

Kerviel has changed his legal team several times, starting off with Elisabeth Meyer in early 2008 and moving on to use specialist criminal lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti briefly before settling on Metzner.

However, one lawyer said Metzner might have his work cut out in defending Kerviel, who has admitted building up unauthorized trading positions.

“Metzner said that Kerviel’s previous lawyers didn’t do a good job, but from what I can see he doesn’t appear to be doing much better,” said another former Kerviel lawyer, Caroline Wassermann.

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(Additional Reporting by Thierry Leveque; Editing by Michael Shields)

Heavyweight Paris lawyers to clash in Kerviel trial