JPMorgan Chase & Co has agreed to pay $153.6 million (Dh563.71 million) to settle civil fraud charges that it misled buyers of complex mortgage investments just as the housing market was collapsing.
J.P. Morgan Securities, a division of the powerful Wall Street bank, failed to tell investors that a hedge fund helped select the investment portfolio and then bet that the portfolio would fail, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.
Among the investors who lost money on the deal were autoworkers for General Motors, a Lutheran financial organisation in Minneapolis and a retirement services company in Topeka, Kan.
The settlement announced on Tuesday is one of the most significant legal actions targeting Wall Street's role in the 2008 financial crisis. It comes a year after Goldman Sachs & Co paid $550 million to settle similar charges.
Still, the settlement amounts to less than 1 per cent of the bank's 2010 net income of $17.4 billion or less than what JPMorgan earns in one week.
In its announcement, the SEC also said it had charged Edward Steffelin with misleading investors. Steffelin headed the team at GSCP, an investment firm that was supposed to have been selecting the portfolio of mortgage securities in the $1.1 billion deal.
The SEC alleged that Steffelin knew that hedge fund Magnetar Capital was directly involved in choosing the securities and was seeking a job with Magnetar at the time. Steffelin has not reached a settlement with regulators.
His lawyer, Alex Lipman, said the SEC was making Steffelin a scapegoat in its case against JPMorgan, "to attach a name and a face" to it.
As part of the JPMorgan settlement, investors who were harmed will get back all of their money, the SEC said. JPMorgan also agreed to improve the way it reviews and approves mortgage securities transactions.
JPMorgan neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing under the settlement. The bank released a statement saying it lost nearly $900 million on the investment. It also noted that it reviewed similar mortgage investments and voluntarily paid $56 million to compensate some investors in those deals.
From / Gulf News