Considering it was the charges of securities fraud levelled at Goldman last year (subsequently settled) in late April that were the primary catalyst for the start in the market sell off, it would not be surprising that in a year which so far is following the script of 2010 verbatim, that we should get another allegation of insider trading by a major bank in something relating to CDO fraud, just to seal the guarantee on QE3. Well, guess what. We just did. As Bloomberg's Joshua Gallu and Jody Shenn noticed first, in the FINRA Brokercheck record of one Michael Llodra, there is a curious announcement. To wit: "MR. LLODRA RECEIVED A WELLS CALL FROM THE STAFF OF THE US SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION INFORMING HIM THAT THEY ARE CONSIDERING RECOMMENDING THE COMMISSION COMMENCE AN ACTION CHARGING HIM WITH VIOLATING CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL SECURITIES LAWS BASED ON HIS INVOLVEMENT IN THE SALE OF A STRUCTURED PRODUCT IN 2007." And just who is Mr. Michael Llodra? Oh only the global head of structured-product collateralized debt obligations at a little firm known as JPMorgan. And while JPMorgan has not been named yet, this news coming out a day ahead of JPM earnings is bad to quite bad. Recall that the Abacus process against Goldman started with the filing of Wells notices against Fab Tourre and his supervisor (which were never disclosed in time - a fact observed then by Zero Hedge - and subsequently ended up costing GS a little pocket change in FINRA appeasement fees). Does this mean the SEC is about to launch an all out assault against JPM at some point in the indeterminate future? Well, for an agency which is in dire need of improving its image, this just may be the case. Not to mention that the double beneficiary of this action would be none other than Goldman Sachs: a market sell off here would guarantee QE3 and certainly weaken the firm's primary competitor. Two birds with one porn-addicted regulator.
The SEC has been probing whether JPMorgan, the second biggest U.S. bank by assets, and Steffelin’s former firm, GSC Group, misled investors about hedge-fund Magnetar Capital LLC’s possible role in selecting underlying assets in the $1.1 billion Squared deal, according to a person briefed on the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe isn’t public.
Magnetar has said it bought the junior-most slice of the Squared CDO as part of its strategy of investing in some mortgage-linked securities while betting against other housing debt, sometimes including bonds from the same deals. CDOs package assets such as mortgage bonds and buyout loans into new securities with varying risks.
JPMorgan spokesman Joe Evangelisti declined to comment.
Llodra and Steffelin declined to comment, as did Steven Lipin, a spokesman for Magnetar, and SEC spokesman John Nester.
The SEC’s investigation has focused on the role of each of the three firms involved in the transaction, a person familiar with the matter said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter isn’t public.
Llodra, who joined JPMorgan in 2006, began working at Harvard Management Co. in 2008 and then went to Sunrise Securities Corp. through last November, his records at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority show. He has since left Sunrise, a woman who answered the phone there today said.
Steffelin, 41, is now director of institutional sales and research at Walton International
We expect the market will not be very happy with this development which can only mean one thing: after extracting its pound of flesh from Lloyd, Mary has now set her sights on Jamie.
Full brokercheck record of Llodra.