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Criminal Inquiry Shifts To JPMorgan’s Mispricing Of Hundreds Of Billions In CDS: Is Dimon The Next Diamond?

Zero Hedge [1]
July 17, 2012

On the last day of May, when we first learned via Bloomberg that there was even the scantest likelihood that JPM may have been massaging its CDS marks within the (London-based of course) CIO organization – the backbone of hundreds of billions in notional exposure, and thus a huge counterfeited benefit to trader bonuses and corporate earnings – we wrote, “The Second Act Of The JPM CIO Fiasco Has Arrived – Mismarking Hundreds Of Billions In Credit Default Swaps [2]” in which we explained precisely how this activity would and did take place, precisely why other traders caught doing the same are on the verge of being thrown in jail, precisely why everyone else does it, and precisely why the biggest CDS self-reporting and client/banker owned-organization (this is where images of Libor should appear), MarkIt, may well be implicated in everything – very much in the same way that the BBA is the heart of Lie-borgate. Because unlike all other allegations of impropriety, most of which rely on Level 2 and Level 3 assets whose valuations are in the eye of the oh so very sophisticated beholder (in this case JPM) who has complex DCFs and speaks confidently when explaining marks to naive, stupid outsiders (in other words baffles with bullshit [3]), when it comes to one of the last places where Mark to Market is still applicable and used: the OTC CDS market, and where daily P&L records are kept, it will take any regulator, enforcer, or criminal investigator precisely 1 minute to find out if there was fraud, or gambling, going on here.

Then lo and behold, none other than JPM admitted [4]minutes before releasing its Q2 earnings that it had been doing precisely what Zero Hedge accused it of doing nearly 2 months earlier (but of course Jamie Dimon had no idea, no idea, what the media accused his firm of doing), and in doing so exposed itself to just as much litigation risk as Barclays in the Lie-borgate scandal, while further throwing a monkey wrench into the CDS market, where all the other banks (who had been doing just the same), will no longer be able to pick off the bid/ask spread in the process crushing CDS trader bonuses, and resulting in billions in foregone imaginary profits.

Most importantly, it opened up the firm to a criminal investigation. Which as Reuters reports [5], is precisely what has now happened.

From Reuters’ Matt Goldstein and Jennifer Ablan:

Before last week’s disclosure, the criminal probe largely had focused on the personal trading of some CIO traders, two of those sources said. The authorities were looking for evidence that some in London may have sold shares of JPMorgan in advance of the firm’s May 10 disclosure that it could lose a minimum of $2 billion on the derivatives trades gone awry.

Now the investigation is focused on whether three JPMorgan employees in London committed fraud in reporting on their transactions. The bank is cooperating with authorities.

Obviously, nobody at the top had any idea of anything that was going on…

JPMorgan’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, and some of his top lieutenants did not learn about the potential misconduct by some CIO employees until early last week, said these sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter

Maybe he should have been reading Zero Hedge? Because said otherwise, as JPM is allegedly to its CIO traders, so Goldman Sachs is to Fabrice Tourre. Remember him – he was the only person who in 2006-2008 was singlehandedly masterminding Goldman’s CDO fraud, which the firm settled for a then record sum. Nobody else: it was just him. Well, if the glove fits, JPM will do the same, and is about to throw some of its heretofore most profitable traders under the bus.

In fact, some of these traders who will have been “discovered” to be mismarking their books will most likely be the same people who have already lost their jobs and are in the process of clawing back pay:

So far, the trading loss has cost a number of people their jobs, including Ina Drew, the former head of the CIO, who resigned in May. Also gone from the bank are three traders in London, Bruno Iksil — who gained fame as the “London Whale” for his large trades — Achilles Macris and Javier Martin-Artajo.

Lawyers in London for Iksil and Martin-Artajo did not return phone calls or email seeking comment. A lawyer in New York for Macris declined to comment.

A lawyer in New York for Drew did not return request for comment. A family member who answered the phone at Drew’s home said she was not available for comment.

Here’s the problem: nobody will be stupid enough to believe for one second that the marks on hundreds of billions in securities passed from the front office straight to JPM’s 10-Q without vetting by middle office, back office, Treasury office, and even in some cases, counterparties. In other words, if JPM is indeed stupid enough to attempt to pull a “Fabrice Tourre” on CIO, it won’t work.

Actually scratch that: it may work, but it will involve a “fine”, i.e., a bribe of about $1 billion to the SEC, and countless promises of perpetual campaign donations to all the other corrupt members of congress and the senate. Which if this fraud flies by unscathed will mean all of them.

Ironically, if only JPM had indeed been honest, and told the public that not only did it have a loss, but it had discovered “material lapses in internal control” back on May 10 when the story hit, it would be a non-event by now. Instead, with the phased in revelations of events that even the most inexperienced trader knows full well all took place at the same time, it is becoming very obvious that Jamie Dimon and crew are merely hiding more and more revelations in some dark corner.

And what is scariest is that all this excludes the liability that the bank will with absolute certainty have as a result of Liborgate, and that it is one of the only three US members of the USD Libor fixing committee at the British Banksters Association.

We will leave the final words to our good friend from Bloomberg Jonathan Weil, who said that [6]It was once inconceivable that Dimon might someday wind up like Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, who resigned last week after that company’s Libor scandal broke wide open. It’s not anymore.”

It certainly is not.