News Column

JPMorgan Head Meets With Attorney General

September 26, 2013

Pete Yost, Associated Press

jpmorgan
JPMorgan building (file photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon met Thursday with Attorney General Eric Holder about an investigation into the company's handling of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the recession.

Holder declined to characterize the hourlong discussions, but a government official familiar with ongoing negotiations said an $11 billion national settlement is under review to resolve claims against JPMorgan.

"I did meet with representatives of JPMorgan," the attorney general said during a news conference being held on another topic.

"We have matters that are under investigation. I expect to be making further announcements in the coming weeks, the coming months," Holder said. His comment was a general reference to probes the Justice Department has been carrying out for several years involving some of the nation's largest financial institutions, including JPMorgan.

Before and after the meeting with Holder, Dimon declined to answer when asked about the state of the discussions.

Other participants in the discussion were Steve Cutler, JPMorgan's general counsel, and Rodgin Cohen, a partner in the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm. For the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General James Cole and Associate Attorney General Tony West also participated.

The Department of Justice is taking the lead on the proposed $11 billion deal, which would include $7 billion in cash and $4 billion in consumer relief, said the government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a settlement hasn't been reached and the official wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly.

The mortgage-backed securities lost value after a bubble in the housing market burst and helped spur the financial crisis.

In January 2012, a task force of federal and state law enforcement officials was established to pursue wrongdoing with regard to mortgage securities.

In other cases, the Justice Department last month accused Bank of America Corp. of civil fraud in failing to disclose risks and misleading investors in its sale of $850 million in mortgage bonds in 2008. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related lawsuit. The government estimates that investors lost more than $100 million on the deal. Bank of America is disputing the allegations.

Last week, JPMorgan agreed to pay $920 million and admitted that it failed to oversee trading that led to a $6 billion loss last year. That combined amount, in settlements with three U.S. regulators and a British one, is one of the largest fines ever levied against a financial institution.

JPMorgan came through the financial crisis in better shape than most of its rivals, and CEO Dimon had charmed lawmakers and commanded the attention of regulators in Washington.

A number of big banks, including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, previously have been accused of abuses in sales of securities linked to mortgages in the run-up to the crisis. Together they have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties to settle civil charges brought by the SEC, which accused them of deceiving investors about the quality of the bonds they sold.

JPMorgan settled SEC charges in June 2011 by agreeing to pay $153.6 million and reached another such agreement for $296.9 million in November.

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Original headline: Attorney General meets with JPMorgan chief



Source: Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.