JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay a record breaking fine to the Justice Department to settle federal and state lawsuits over the bank's mortgage-backed securities business at the height of the financial collapse, according to multiple reports. This is everything we know so far.
The Wall Street Journal reports J.P. Morgan Chase lawyers reached a tentative agreement late Friday night for a record breaking $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department that would relieve the bank from many state and federal lawsuits and investigations, after weeks of heated negotiations between lawyers representing both sides. This is the largest settlement ever paid to the federal government.
Attorney General Eric Holder, his deputy Tony West, and Stephen Cutler, the bank's general counsel, knocked out the initial terms of a deal last night, though things are still being finalized. The Journal explains what the settlement gets JPMC out of:
The deal does include a roughly $4 billion agreement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency to settle allegations that J.P. Morgan misled Fannie Mae FNMA +0.65% and Freddie Mac about the quality of loans it sold them in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, the person said.
The deal would also resolve a separate suit brought by New York state's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, the person said.
So that equals out to $9 billion in fines and that separate $4 million going to relief for struggling home owners. Reuters is reporting the same numbers.
The settlement does not relieve JPMorgan from the Justice Department's ongoing criminal investigation of "the bank's issuance of mortgage-backed securities between 2005 and 2007," the Journal says. The criminal probe had lawyers for both sides at a gridlock: JPMC wanted the investigation dropped, but Holder refused, and then squeezed the bank for money, according to The New York Times:
The penalties eclipse what the bank previously offered to pay. Until now, JPMorgan was offering about $11 billion in total. And it was refusing to increase its offer until the Justice Department dropped a parallel criminal investigation into the bank’s sale of troubled mortgage securities to investors.
What this record breaking settlement means for JPMorgan chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon remains unclear. The bank recently set aside $23 billion to settle its numerous ongoing legal battles, and this single settlement took a major chunk out of that war chest. As Quartz's Tim Frenholtz outlined recently, this deal is really only the tip of the iceberg for JPMC, which is not a good sign for Dimon.
The pundit sharks have been swirling around Dimon lately, smelling blood in the water calling for his head on a platter. Few presented the argument against Dimon as articulately as Salon's Alex Pareene during a recent CNBC appearance:
I think that any time you’re looking at the greatest fine in the history of Wall Street regulation, it’s really worth asking should this guy stay in his job. In any other industry — I can’t think of another industry. If you managed a restaurant, and it got the biggest health department fine in the history of restaurants, no one would say “Yeah, but the restaurant’s making a lot of money. There’s only a little bit of poison in the food.”
One person defending Dimon recently was the godfather of modern investing, Warren Buffett. If a cop follows you for 500 miles, you’re going to get a ticket,” Buffett told Andrew Ross Sorkin in an interview on CNBC this week. "And you’ve had a lot of cops been following a long time and they’re going to write some tickets."
Now Dimon has biggest ticket in history. So what happens next?