"Too Big To Regulate" JP Morgan "Lied" And "Deceived" Regulators, Investors And Public, Senate Finds
Moments ago, ahead of tomorrow's 9:30 am Senate hearing on JP Morgan's 2012 attempt to corner the IG9 market through its London-based CIO office using depositor cash which as everyone now knows went horribly wrong, titled "JPMorgan Chase Whale Trades: A Case History of Derivatives Risks and Abuses,” the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has released its comprehensive 300 pages review of the London Whale fiasco. The report, in a nutshell, finds that both Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan lied and misled investors, regulators and Congress, that it forced its traders to hide growing losses, that it hid trades banned by the Volcker rule (just as we first said in April 2012 in "Why JPM's "Chief Investment Office" Is The World's Largest Prop Trading Desk: Fact And Fiction") and that JP Morgan may, by extension, be "too big to manage" or "too big to regulate" as Carl "Shitty Deal" Levin summarized.
From the FT:
Mr Dimon had initially played down the significance of credit derivatives trading activity in the bank’s London chief investment office during an earnings call in April last year, saying it was “a tempest in a teapot”.
However, the Senate report found that he was “already in possession of information about the . . . complex and sizeable portfolio, its sustained losses for three straight months, the exponential increase in those losses during March and the difficulty of exiting the . . . positions”.
Additional disclosures from Mr Braunstein, now a vice-chairman at the bank – including that regulators were given “information on those positions on a regular and recurring basis” – are described in the report as “inaccurate at best, and deceptive at worst”.
The panel said Mr Braunstein may have misled investors and, overall, “the written and verbal representations made by the bank were incomplete, contained numerous inaccuracies, and misinformed investors, regulators, and the public”.
It gets worse as the accusations of lying are very much direct:
Mr McCain accused the bank of lying when it told Senate investigators it had been fully transparent with regulators.
The report quotes an examiner at the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, JPMorgan’s regulator, saying he felt the bank had “lied to” and “deceived” the agency over the question of whether the bank had mismarked its books to hide the extent of losses. It also reveals that the OCC lowered its “CAMELS” measure of bank strength, a key and usually secret metric, due to concerns over management and internal “oversight deficiencies”.
The bank’s chief risk officer John Hogan told the OCC that there was no mismarking of asset valuations but the bank later acknowledged that there had been mismarking. Mr Hogan said he had not been aware of this when he gave his answer to the OCC, the report said. However, the panel said the bank mismarked to hide losses. It also criticised the OCC for insufficient oversight.
Some more from MarketWatch:
The report does have one example showing that Dimon intentionally sought to cut off regulators from critical daily profit and loss trading data at a time that it could have started to provide damaging information about trading losses at the firm.
Specifically, in late January, 2012, as losses were increasing, the report said Dimon ordered the bank to stop providing a daily investment bank profit and loss report to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the institution’s chief regulator, because he believed it was too much information to provide to the OCC.
However, Douglas Braunstein, J.P. Morgan Chase’s chief financial officer at the time, restored the daily report soon afterward at the OCC’s request. But, according to the investigation, “Dimon reportedly raised his voice in anger” at Braunstein and disclosed that he had ordered the halt to the reports. Dimon said the OCC didn't need daily profit and loss figures for the investment bank, according to the report.
Meanwhile, there were many examples of trader warnings going unheeded. In one recorded conversation from March, Iksil, the “London whale,” told Julien Grout, a junior trader, that their supervisor, Javier Martin-Artajo, was expecting a reworking of their calculation of losses. In the email Iksil said “I can’t keep this going …. I think what he’s [Javier Martin-Artajo] expecting is a re-marking at the end of the month …. I don’t know where he wants to stop, but it’s getting idiotic.”
At one point in March, Iksil characterized the huge losses as “hopeless” and he predicted that “they are going to trash/destroy us” and “you don’t lose 500 million without consequences.”
Finally, Carl Levin who is known to bluster a lot, if act not so much, said that "there’s a lot of evidence" that JPMorgan may be "too big to manage" or "too big to regulate". The bank has $2.4tn in total assets and Mr Levin’s statement adds to an intensifying Washington debate over whether the government should forcibly restructure large financial groups. As Marthwatch reports: "Levin told reporters that he will decide after a hearing scheduled for Friday, where top regulators and J.P. Morgan executives are scheduled to testify, whether it will push the Justice Department to investigate the firm. Dimon was not called to testify on Friday and Levin defended the decision, arguing that he plans to hear from the individuals with the most knowledge of the trades."
Of course, nothing will ever happen to JPM, and no TBTF banks in the US will ever be split up. Why? Because doing so would reveal the 1000-to-1 exposure of outstanding derivative notional to collateral, and would necessitate an immediate collapse in the $600 trillion OTC derivative market, leading to fare more catastrophic consequences than the Lehman bankruptcy. And a loss of DC's indulgence collection from Wall Street of course. Because what is D.C. if not the bought and paid for muppets of the very firm that is the subject of this article?
Either way, tomorrow's senatorial theater, which we will cover, where Jamie Dimon and his presidential handcuffs will be absent, promises to be quite entertaining, and JPM's sacrificial pig, Ina Drew will be summarily crucified, even if her boss - the man who made it all happen, will be comfortably hundreds of miles away.
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