The power of one (Editor’s notes)

Laws and regulations won't stop an employee with a little knowledge from beating the system
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/07/2008

Go ahead. Ignore that problem employee. After all, how much damage can one person really do? In an era of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance, checks and balances and redundancies, corporations are pretty insulated from the actions of a single rogue employee, right? (I can already hear some HR folks chuckling…)

France’s second largest bank, Paris-based Société Générale, has about 4.9 billion examples it can show employers as to how much damage one person can do. That’s how many Euros the bank lost — about $7.3 billion for those counting on this side of the Atlantic — after Jerome Kerviel, a 31-year-old futures trader, orchestrated a series of bogus transactions that spiraled out of control.

Experts say it was this worker’s superior knowledge of every aspect of trading at the bank that allowed him to circumnavigate the checks and balances in place.