JP Morgan makes $920m London Whale payout to regulators

JP Morgan fined a record $920m for 'London Whale' trading

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US bank JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay four regulators $920m (£572m) relating to a $6.2bn loss incurred as a result of the "London Whale" trades.

The settlement is the third biggest banking fine by US regulators, and the second largest by UK regulators.

As part of the deal JP Morgan admitted violating US federal securities laws.

Traders at JP Morgan's London office built up huge losses in derivatives trades at the beginning of last year.

Two former JP Morgan traders face criminal charges in the US relating to the case.

They deny charges of lying about the size of their trades in order to hide their mounting losses.

In a statement, the SEC said there had been failings in JP Morgan's internal controls and in senior management.

The regulator said the bank - whose chief executive Jamie Dimon once described the trading problems as a "tempest in a teacup" - had admitted the facts underlying the SEC's charges.

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The beaching of this Whale may well therefore re-open the debate about how the overseas operations of international banks should be supervised and regulated”

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'Undermining trust'

"JP Morgan failed to keep watch over its traders as they overvalued a very complex portfolio to hide massive losses," said George Canellos, co-director of the SEC's division of enforcement.

The Wall Street firm, one of the biggest investment banks in the world, is paying $300m to the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and $200m will go to both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Federal Reserve.

A further £138m will be paid to the UK's Financial Conduct Authority as part of the global settlement.

It said JP Morgan's conduct "demonstrated flaws permeating all levels of the firm: from portfolio level right up to senior management".

Tracey McDermott, the FCA's director of enforcement and financial crime, said the failings had undermined trust and confidence in the UK's financial markets.

"This is yet another example of a firm failing to get a proper grip on the risks its business poses to the market," she said.

Analysis

Paying a hefty fine and admitting wrongdoing is pretty big news for investment bank JP Morgan.

The Wall Street giant will be hoping that the settlement means it can put the London Whale debacle behind it - and start re-building its reputation.

Yet, for people here at the New York Stock Exchange, today's news of the massive fine has barely registered.

Shares have made very little movement, and some traders here find the story, well, tiresome.

The fines were expected and JP Morgan has steadily been setting money aside for the financial punishment it knew was coming.

As long as the bank continues to make money for investors, the reaction will continue to be muted.

'Acknowledged mistakes'

"Senior management failed to respond properly to warning signals that there were problems.

"As things began to go wrong, the firm didn't wake up quickly enough to the size and the scale of the problems. What is worse, they compounded this by failing to be open and co-operative with us as their regulator."

The London Whale was the name given to then-JP Morgan derivatives trader Bruno Iksil, who is believed to have racked up the losses and is now co-operating with authorities in criminal cases against other traders.

The bank's chief investment officer, Ina Drew, stepped down following the revelation of the losses in 2012.

Mr Dimon, whose "tempest in a teacup" comment in April 2012 prompted criticism he was underplaying the affair, said in a statement on Thursday the bank "accepted responsibility and acknowledged our mistakes from the start".

"We have learned from [our mistakes] and worked to fix them. We will continue to strive towards being considered the best bank - across all measures - not only by our shareholders and customers, but also by our regulators," he said.

Professor John Coffee, director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia University Law School says JP Morgan's settlement over the 'London Whale' trades is a "step forward"

"Since these losses occurred, we have made numerous changes that have made us a stronger, smarter, better company."

Another fine

Separately, JP Morgan was fined $309m by the newly-created US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for illegal credit card practices.

According to the CFPB, between October 2005 and January 2012, JP Morgan Chase customers were charged monthly fees ranging from $7.99 to $11.99 for "identity theft protection" and "fraud monitoring" services which were never actually performed.

Some customers exceeded their account limits due to these fees, and thus were fined double.

Approximately 2.1 million customers of the bank are expected to get refunds.

"At the core of our mission is a duty to identify and root out unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices in financial markets that harm consumers," said newly-installed CFPB director Richard Cordray in a statement.

"This order takes action against such practices."

Biggest bank fines by US regulators

*Does not include UK FCA fine. Source: DOJ, Securities & Exchange Commission

HSBC

$1.92bn

Money laundering

UBS

$780m

Tax evasion

JP Morgan*

$700m

Misstating financial results

Standard Chartered

$667m

Violating US sanctions

ING

$619m

Violating US sanctions

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