JPMorgan scandal: The tip of the iceberg
by Andre Damon and Barry Grey
July 17, 2012
JPMorgan Chase, the biggest US bank by assets, announced Friday that the trading loss from derivatives bets made by its Chief Investment Office (CIO) had reached $5.8 billion, nearly three times the amount the company had revealed in May. It added that the bad bets could result in an additional $1.7 billion in losses over the rest of the year.
In its second quarter filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the bank admitted that it had failed to report $459 million in losses from the trades in its first quarter report, released April 13. CEO Jamie Dimon and other top executives attempted to lay the blame on “certain individuals” who “may have been seeking to avoid showing the full amount of the losses being incurred in the portfolio during the first quarter”—an allusion to several traders in the London office of the bank’s CIO who have since been forced out of the firm.
Bloomberg News reported that this explanation seemed implausible to former JPMorgan executives it interviewed, who said the company had mechanisms in place to make sure traders could not simply hide their losses. In fact, JPMorgan’s report to the SEC on Friday indicates that the bank recorded a $718 million loss from the London trades on its internal accounts, but did not report the loss in its first quarter earnings statement.
In other words, JPMorgan deliberately falsified its first quarter report to the SEC in order to conceal its massive gambling losses. This is a crime—a violation of banking laws for which Dimon, as the CEO, is responsible. That Dimon was involved in a cover-up is underscored by the proof contained in Friday’s report to the SEC that he was already aware his bank had lost hundreds of millions if not billions when he told a conference call in April that reports of major losses by the bank’s CIO were “a tempest in a teapot.”
The trading loss debacle is only one of many scandals engulfing JPMorgan Chase.