JP Morgan Chase announced on Wednesday that they're the subject of criminal and civil Department of Justice investigations pertaining to mortgage-backed securities. The company disclosed the information in their quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing, although Reuters notes that the company learned of at least one of the probes in May.
The news follows one day after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Bank of America that claims the bank intentionally defrauded investors over their offerings of mortgage-backed securities. The JP Morgan civil investigation, Reuters says, covers the years 2005 to 2007, and is based on a preliminary conclusion that "the firm violated federal securities laws in offerings of subprime and Alt-A residential mortgage securities." The company has also bumped up their potential legal losses after reserves to $6.8 billion from $6 billion. The criminal investigation is in tandem with the civil one, and is being run out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in California, Bloomberg reports.
The Justice Department has been rather timid in pursuing big financial institutions in the wake of the housing crisis and recession (see the phrase: "too big to fail"), leaving those with a taste for Wall Street comeuppance to console themselves with minor convictions of individuals, like that of Fabrice Tourre, a mid-level Goldman Sachs employee. But JP Morgan Chase is the biggest American bank, counting by assets, hinting that critics of the Tourre case might be able to hold their breaths for hope of at least a small piece of what they've been waiting for. Then again JP Morgan has already felt the sting of embarrassment, if not punishment, thanks to the 2012 so-called "London Whale" trading loss.