Capitalist failure JP Morgan hid mistakes as trade losses grew using ‘make believe voodoo magic’
JP Morgan hid mistakes as trade losses grew, Senate investigation finds
Bank executives to testify Friday after report claims company misled public during $6.2bn London Whale trading debacle
Heidi Moore in New York
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 14 March 2013 19.24 EDT
JP Morgan’s $6.2bn London Whale trading debacle was born out of secretive trades and creative bookkeeping as the bank attempted to limit losses using a practice that one regulator called “make believe voodoo magic”, a Senate investigation has concluded.
The report by the Senate subcommittee on investigations, published on Thursday, detailed a series of failures in which accounts were hidden and trades were valued incorrectly to minimize losses. It also alleged that regulators were kept in the dark, a head trader’s concerns went unheeded and a $51bn trading portfolio ballooned to $157bn in three months.
The inquiry follows JP Morgan’s own internal investigation in January and provides the first look into the emails and internal discussions at the bank around the infamous Whale trade. It centers on the secretive JP Morgan chief investment office, which accounted for as much as one-sixth of the bank’s assets last year.
The 300-page report alleges that JP Morgan hid losses, did not share information with its regulators, and misled the public. The report also blames the bank’s regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and recommends reforming the way regulators oversee derivatives, the complicated financial instruments that played a role in the Whale trades and the financial crisis.
The report also concludes that JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, whose bonus was cut in half to $11.5m last year, knew about the sustained trading losses when he dismissed the incident as a “tempest in a teapot” in April 2012.