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/ Business / JPMorgan in talks to settle cases for $11 billion

JPMorgan in talks to settle cases for $11 billion

Neil Hall/Reuters - JPMorgan Chase is in talks to pay state and federal authorities $11 billion to resolve investigations into its sale of mortgage securities, a person familiar with the negotiations said.
Shindiri Studio on September 26, 2013 - 3:15 pm in Business

JPMorgan Chase is in talks to pay state and federal authorities $11 billion to resolve investigations into its sale of shoddy mortgage securities during the financial crisis, a person familiar with the talks said Wednesday.

If the bank were to agree to such a settlement, it would represent a tremendous win for the government after years of public criticism over its struggle to hold Wall Street accountable for its crisis-era misdeeds.

The whopping figure in discussion far exceeds the Justice Department’s largest single company settlement on record — a $3 billion deal with Glaxo­SmithKline in 2011. It is also significantly higher than the $3 billion JPMorgan offered the Justice Department on Tuesday to settle the investigations.

Yet it amounts to a sliver of the losses incurred by investors who purchased mortgage securities that turned sour when the housing market crashed in 2008.

According to the person with knowledge of the talks, the settlement under discussion would include $7 billion in cash and $4 billion in relief to consumers. JPMorgan has not agreed to that amount and the conversation with state and federal authorities is ongoing, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Talks have been ongoing for months but began to heat up this week as federal prosecutors in California were preparing to announce civil charges against JPMorgan related the sale of mortgage-backed securities between 2005 and 2007.

The full scope of the deal remains unclear, but people with knowledge of the negotiations said it may include an agreement to end a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in October over shoddy mortgage securities, as well as similar federal probes.

Officials at JPMorgan and the Justice Department declined to comment.

Selling mortgage securities was a brisk business for Wall Street for many years. Banks, after issuing loans, would pool hundreds of mortgages and market the bundles as investments that could be traded just like stocks. When the housing market crashed, the securities were worthless and left investors saddled with massive losses.

JPMorgan disclosed in August that it was responding to “a number of subpoenas and informal requests” from federal and state authorities concerning every aspect of the packaging and sale of mortgage securities. That included a criminal and civil investigation by federal prosecutors in California. At the time, the company said government lawyers had concluded that JPMorgan broke federal laws in its handling of subprime and other risky residential mortgages.

Many of the probes stem from JPMorgan’s Bear Stearns unit, which the bank acquired in 2008 at the behest of the Federal Reserve.

JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon has decried the government’s Bear Stearns probes in the past, insisting his bank was being punished even though its acquisition of the firm helped government efforts to save the economy. Dimon has said that JPMorgan has already paid nearly $10 billion to unwind Bear Stearns’s troubled businesses and settle litigation related to the firm.

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