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JPMorgan Sued For Crony Justice – Presenting “A Decade of Illegal Conduct by JP Morgan Chase” | Zero Hedge
Earlier today, the non-profit organization Better Markets did what so many others have only dreamed of doing – they sued JPMorgan.
Specifically, as they disclose in the fact sheet posted on their website, they are “challenging the historic and unprecedented $13 billion settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and JP Morgan Chase (“Agreement”). Better Markets alleges in its complaint that the DOJ violated the Constitution and laws of the United States by using a mere contractual agreement to resolve claims of historic importance without subjecting the Agreement to independent judicial review. In effect, the DOJ acted as investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury, sentencer, and collector, without any check on its authority or actions, even though the amount is the largest in the 237 year history of the United States. Because the DOJ has declared its intention to use the Agreement as a “template” in future similar cases, it is imperative that the DOJ’s unlawful and secretive approach in the settlement process be subjected to judicial review.”
We wish them the best of luck, as in a “crony jsutice” system as corrupt as this one – perhaps best described, paradoxically enough by the fictional movie The International – where the same DOJ previously implicitly admitted it will not prosecute “systemically important” firms like JPM to the full extent of the law and instead merely lob one after another wrist slap at them to placate the peasantry, any hope for obtaining true justice is impossible.
That said, the key aspects of the Better Markets lawsuit deserve attention. They are broken down as follows:
For years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008, JP Morgan Chase allegedly engaged in pervasive fraud in the packaging and sale of thousands of mortgage-backed securities to investors. Those securities were stuffed with subprime loans that failed to meet applicable underwriting criteria. Employees, managers, and potentially high-level executives of JP Morgan Chase knew that the securities were riddled with toxic loans, but they allegedly concealed the truth from investors when they marketed and sold the securities. Investors lost huge but still unknown sums of money as a result of the fraud, and the bank’s illegal conduct contributed directly to the biggest financial crash since 1929 and the worst economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
After negotiating the Agreement in complete secrecy, the DOJ announced the $13 billion deal on November 19, 2013, claiming that it was holding JP Morgan Chase accountable for its illegal activities. Under the Agreement, DOJ grants JP Morgan Chase broad civil immunity in exchange for a $2 billion civil penalty, along with $4 billion in “consumer relief” for the benefit of homeowners with problem mortgages. The Agreement also allocates $7 billion to eight other agencies or states to resolve their claims against JP Morgan Chase.
Key Allegations in the Complaint
The Agreement was struck under the most extraordinary circumstances. For example—
- THE HISTORIC CLAIMS: The Agreement resolved claims of pervasive fraud that contributed to the worst financial crash since 1929 and the worst economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
- THE LARGEST AMOUNT EVER: The settlement amount was the largest in U.S. history from any single entity by more than 300%.
- THE BIGGEST BANK: JP Morgan Chase is the largest, richest, and most well-connected Wall Street bank in the United States.
- THE HIGHEST-LEVEL NEGOTIATORS: The Attorney General and other senior DOJ political appointees negotiated directly and entirely in secret with the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, someone who was considered a possible Treasury Secretary just a few years ago.
- THE $10 BILLION PHONE CALL: The cellphone of DOJ’s third highest ranking official rang with the “familiar” phone number of JP Morgan Chase’s CEO, who called to offer billions of dollars to stop DOJ from holding a press conference and filing a lawsuit in just a few hours. The call worked, and the press conference and lawsuit were both called off.
- THE UNPRECEDENTED AGREEMENT: DOJ gave complete civil immunity to JP Morgan Chase for defrauding thousands in exchange for $13 billion, via a contract that was negotiated and finalized in secret without any review or approval by a federal court.
?Notwithstanding the historic nature of the settlement, the Agreement was never subjected to judicial review, so there has been no independent evaluation of its terms. Furthermore, the vague settlement documents fail to disclose critically important information about every aspect of the deal. For example, the Agreement fails to identify or explain—
- THE LOSSES: How much did JP Morgan Chase’s clients, customers, counterparties, investors, and others lose as a result of its fraudulent conduct? $100 billion? $200 billion? More?
- THE PROFITS: How much revenue, profits, and other benefits did JP Morgan Chase receive as a result of its fraudulent conduct, and was it all disgorged? $10 billion? $20 billion? More?
- THE BONUSES: Who received what amount of bonuses for the illegal conduct?
- THE INVESTIGATION: What was the scope and thoroughness of the investigation that provided the basis for the Agreement?
- THE FRAUD: What are the material facts of the illegal conduct by JP Morgan Chase and the specific violations of law that were committed?
- THE CULPRITS: What exactly did the individual executives, officers, managers, and employees involved in the illegal conduct actually do to carry out the fraud, and do any of them still work for the bank?
- THE CORRECTIVE ACTION: Why did the contract fail to impose on JP Morgan Chase any obligation to change any of its business or compliance practices, which are standard conduct remedies that regulators routinely require? And how can the sanctions effectively punish and deter JP Morgan Chase, given its wealth and its extensive history of lawless conduct?
- THE LACK OF ADMISSIONS: Why are there no admissions of fact or law by JP Morgan Chase, and what, if any, are the concrete legal implications of their so-called “acknowledgment”?
By entering the Agreement without seeking any judicial review and approval, the DOJ violated the Constitution and laws of the United States.
- The Executive Branch, acting through the DOJ, violated the separation of powers doctrine by unilaterally striking a bargain with JP Morgan Chase to resolve unprecedented matters of historic importance, without seeking any judicial review and approval of the Agreement.
- The DOJ violated the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (“FIRREA”) by failing to commence a civil action in federal court so that the court could, among other things, assess the civil penalty.
- The DOJ acted arbitrarily and capriciously by, among other things, entering the Agreement without seeking judicial review and approval.
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But perhaps the most informative aspect of the lawsuit fact sheet is simply stepping back and observing the relentless illegal transgressions by Jamie Dimon’s firm. Better Markets summarizes them best as follows:
Highlights From A Decade of Illegal Conduct by JP Morgan Chase
- United States v. JPMorgan Case Bank, NA, No-1:14-cr-7 (S.D.N.Y. Jan 8, 2014) ($1.7 billion criminal penalty); In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., OCC Admin. Proceeding No. AA-EC-13-109 (Jan. 7, 2014) ($350 million civil penalty); In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Dept. of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Admin. Proceeding No. 2014-1 (Jan. 7, 2014) ($461 million civil penalty) (all for violations of law arising from the bank’s role in connection with Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the largest in the history of the U.S.);
- In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., CFTC Admin. Proceeding No. 14-01 (Oct. 16, 2013) ($100 million civil penalty); In re JPMorgan Chase & Co., SEC Admin. Proceeding No. 3-15507 (Sept. 19, 2013) ($200 million civil penalty); In re JPMorgan Chase & Co., Federal Reserve Board Admin. Proceeding No. 13-031-CMP-HC (Sept. 18, 2013) ($200 million civil penalty); UK Financial Conduct Authority, Final Notice to JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Sept. 18, 2013) (£137.6 million ($221 million) penalty); In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., OCC Admin. Proceeding No. AA-EC-2013-75, #2013-140 (Sept. 17, 2013) ($300 million civil penalty) (all for violations of federal law in connection with the proprietary trading losses sustained by JP Morgan Chase in connection with the high risk derivatives bet referred to as the “London Whale”);
- In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., CFPB Admin. Proceeding No. 2013-CFPB-0007 (Sept. 19, 2013) ($20 million civil penalty and $309 million refund to customers); In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., OCC Admin. Proceeding No. AA-EC-2013-46 (Sept. 18, 2013) ($60 million civil penalty) (both for violations in connection with JP Morgan Chase’s billing practices and fraudulent sale of so-called Identity Protection Products to customers);
- In Re Make-Whole Payments and Related Bidding Strategies, FERC Admin. Proceeding Nos. IN11-8-000, IN13-5-000 (July 30, 2013) (civil penalty of $285 million and disgorgement of $125 million for energy market manipulation);
- SEC v. J.P. Morgan Sec. LLC, No. 12-cv-1862 (D.D.C. Jan. 7, 2013) ($301 million in civil penalties and disgorgement for improper conduct related to offerings of mortgage-backed securities);
- In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., CFTC Admin. Proceeding No. 12-37 (Sept. 27, 2012) ($600,000 civil penalty for violations of the Commodities Exchange Act relating to trading in excess of position limits);
- In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., CFTC Admin. Proceeding No. 12-17 (Apr. 4, 2012) ($20 million civil penalty for the unlawful handling of customer segregated funds relating to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.);
- United States v. Bank of America, No. 12-cv-00361 (D.D.C. 2012) (for foreclosure and mortgage-loan servicing abuses during the Financial Crisis, with JP Morgan Chase paying $5.3 billion in monetary and consumer relief);
- In re JPMorgan Chase & Co., Federal Reserve Board Admin. Proceeding No. 12-009-CMP-HC (Feb. 9, 2012) ($275 million in monetary relief for unsafe and unsound practices in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing);
- SEC v. J.P. Morgan Sec. LLC, No. 11-cv-03877 (D.N.J. July 7, 2011) ($51.2 million in civil penalties and disgorgement); In re JPMorgan Chase & Co., Federal Reserve Board Admin. Proceeding No. 11-081-WA/RB-HC (July 6, 2011) (compliance plan and corrective action requirements); In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., OCC Admin. Proceeding No. AA-EC-11-63 (July 6, 2011) ($22 million civil penalty) (all for anticompetitive practices in connection with municipal securities transactions);
- SEC v. J.P. Morgan Sec., LLC, No. 11-cv-4206 (S.D.N.Y. June 21, 2011) ($153.6 million in civil penalties and disgorgement for violations of the securities laws relating to misleading investors in connection with synthetic collateralized debt obligations);
- In re JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., OCC Admin. Proceeding No. AA-EC-11-15, #2011-050 (Apr. 13, 2011) (consent order mandating compliance plan and other corrective action resulting from unsafe and unsound mortgage servicing practices);
- In re J.P. Morgan Sec. Inc., SEC Admin. Proceeding No. 3-13673 (Nov. 4, 2009) ($25 million civil penalty for violations of the securities laws relating to the Jefferson County derivatives trading and bribery scandal);
- In re JP Morgan Chase & Co, Attorney General of the State of NY Investor Protection Bureau, Assurance of Discontinuance Pursuant to Exec. Law §63(15) (June 2, 2009) ($25 million civil penalty for misrepresenting risks associated with auction rate securities);
- In re JPMorgan Chase & Co., SEC Admin. Proceeding No. 3-13000 (Mar. 27, 2008) ($1.3 million civil disgorgement for violations of the securities laws relating to JPM’s role as asset-backed indenture trustee to certain special purpose vehicles);
- In re J.P. Morgan Sec. Inc., SEC Admin. Proceeding No. 3-11828 (Feb. 14, 2005) ($2.1 million in civil fines and penalties for violations of Securities Act record-keeping requirements); and
- SEC v. J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., 03-cv-2939 (WHP) (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 28, 2003) ($50 million in civil penalties and disgorgements as part of a global settlement for research analyst conflict of interests).
Did we mention that nobody from JPM has gone to prison, and instead as of late last week, one of the biggest JPM culprits was set to become a member of the CFTC’s advisory panel before the people and not the regulators, were forced to step in? Why? #AskJPM
Every time a TBTF bank releases its 10-Q, we head straight for the section, usually well over 100 pages in, that discloses the bank’s total profitable trading days.
This is what the most recent Bank of America 10-Q said on this topic:
The histogram below is a graphic depiction of trading volatility and illustrates the daily level of trading-related revenue for the three months ended September 30, 2013 compared to the three months ended June 30, 2013 and March 31, 2013. During the three months ended September 30, 2013, positive trading-related revenue was recorded for 97 percent, or 62 trading days, of which 69 percent (44 days) were daily trading gains of over $25 million and the largest loss was $21 million. These results can be compared to the three months ended June 30, 2013, where positive trading-related revenue was recorded for 89 percent, or 57 trading days, of which 67 percent (43 days) were daily trading gains of over $25 million and the largest loss was $54 million. During the three months ended March 31, 2013, positive trading-related revenue was recorded for 100 percent, or 60 trading days, of which 97 percent (58 days) were daily trading gains over $25 million.
In summary, so far in 2013, Bank of America lost money on 9 trading days out of a total 188.
Statistically, this result is absolutely ridiculous when one considers that the bulk of bank trading revenues are still in the form of prop positions disguised as “flow” trading to evade Volcker which means the only way a bank could make money with near uniform perfection is if it either i) consistently has inside information that it trades on or ii) it consistently front-runs its clients.
In related news, the only more absurd datapoint was JPMorgan’s announcement of how many trading day losses it had in the first nine months of 2013. For those who missed out succinct post on the matter, the answer was clear: zero. The absurdity becomes even clearer when one considers that in the pre-New Normal days, JPM had an almost normal profit/loss distribution in its trading days.
But back to Bank of America, where as we noted, the kind of trading result would only be possible if the bank was aggressively insider trading or just as aggressively frontrunning flow orders in its prop book (a topic we covered back in 2009 as relates to Goldman Sachs, and which the bank sternly rejected).
We now know that at least one of the two almost certainly happened after Reuters report from earlier today that it discovered on the FINRA BrokerCheck page of one of the bank’s former Managing Directors, Eric Beckwith, the following curious ongoing investigation:
WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE USAO (US Attorney Office) -WDNC IS INVESTIGATING WHETHER IT WAS PROPER FOR THE SWAPS DESK TO EXECUTE FUTURES TRADES PRIOR TO THE DESK’S EXECUTION OF BLOCK FUTURE TRADES ON BEHALF OF COUNTERPARTIES, AND WHETHER MR. BECKWITH PROVIDED ACCURATE INFORMATION TO THE CME IN CONNECTION WITH THE CME’S INVESTIGATION OF THE SWAPS DESK’S BLOCK FUTURES TRADING. WE ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT THE COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION IS CONDUCTING A PARALLEL INVESTIGATION INTO THE TRADING ISSUE.
More from Reuters:
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission have both held investigations into whether Bank of America engaged in improper trading by doing its own futures trades ahead of executing large orders for clients, according to a regulatory filing.
The June 2013 disclosure, which Reuters recently reviewed on a website run by the securities industry regulator FINRA, sheds light on the basis for a warning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on January 8.
The warning, in the form of an intelligence bulletin to regulators and security officers at financial services firms, said that the FBI suspected swaps traders at an unnamed U.S. bank and an unnamed Canadian bank may have been involved in market manipulation and front running of orders from U.S. government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Only this time it’s different, because a quick check on the background of Beckwith shows that his expertise is not trading MBS but a different product entirely.
First, it goes without saying that Eric would promptly scrap his LinkedIn Profile as the following URL shows.
What Eric, however, was unable to delete was the mention of his name as the Bank of America contact for an “innovative new product created [by the CME and the banks] based on client demand” –Deliverable Interest Rate Swaps Futures, or as some call them Deliverable Interest Rate Products.
What is this newly promoted product, and why is there demand for it? This is what the CME had to say about the benefits of “DIRPs” (even though the technical acronyms is DSFs):
- Capital efficient way to access interest rate swap exposure
- Flexible execution via CME Globex, Block trades, EFRPs and Open Outcry
- Allows participants to trade in an OTC manner:
- Ability to block calendar spreads
- Lower block thresholds and longer reporting times
- No block surcharges
But, as in the case of CDS, and all other novel products, the main reason for DIRPs is simple: an even lower margin requirement compared to Interest Rate Swaps and Treasury Futures (margined together), allowing one to express a position, or better, manipulate the market in Interest Rate products, using the least amount of margin (initial capital) possible.
The following chart explains just this:
Bottom line: if you want to manipulate Treasurys in a reflexive market, where the derivatve almost always drives the price of the underlying (as perhaps explained best by none other than the then-member of the Fed Dino Kos), this is the best product as you get even more firepower for your buck.
Only in this case, anyone trading with the Bank of America DIRPs desk was apparently also being frontrun on a consistent basis.
We are relatively comfortable with alleging that BofA did indeed allow this to happen (whether it neither admits nor denies guilt at the end of the day), because a few weeks after the notice appears in Beckwith’s Brokercheck profile on June 14,2013, he promptly “left” Bank of America in July as Reuters reports: not exactly the course of action an innocent man would take.
In other words, while Reuters is focused on the Fannie and Freddie frontrunning angle, it appears the frontrunning activity spread substantially to involve the entire Treasury curve as well!
So while HFTs frontrun all equity retail trades in open markets, major banks frontrun all institutional block equity orders in their own dark pools, we find out that bankers also just happen to frontrun clients in “you name it” over the counter product, where the only reason to be involved is to take advantage of the low margin – something JPM’s CIO did quite aggressively and quite well until it blew up of course.
But the best news: we finally know how it is possible that every bank reports quarter after quarter of near uniform trading perfection and close to zero trading day losses.
Finally, our question for the regulators: in a Volcker world in which banks are supposedly not allowed to trade ahead of their clients, why are banks, well, trading ahead of their clients!?
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Appendix 1 – the CMEs overview of Deliverable IR Swap Futures
Appendix 2 – Eric Beckwith’s Brokercheck profile
JPMorgan, Madoff, And Why No One Dared Ask “The Cult” Any “Serious Questions As Long As The Performance Is Good” | Zero Hedge
As was well-known in advance, today JPMorgan entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ, whereby Jamie Dimon’s enterprise, where legal fees and litigation charges are no longer “non-recurring” items but a cost of doing business, paid $1.7 billion (non tax-deductible) to settle all criminal charges that it was aware well in advance that Madoff was a ponzi scheme and did nothing to alert authorities or the general public. What was less known is just how acutely JPM was aware of the developments at Madoff’s pyramid scheme, and that while apparently JPM was not convinced enough of Madoff’s criminality to alert regulators using “Suspicious Activity Reports”, it had seen enough to quietly reduce its exposure with the Ponzi from $369 million at the beginning of October 2008, or just after the Lehman collapse, to just $81 million at the time of Madoff’s arrest.
There is much more on the sequence of events in JPM’s realization that Madoff was a fraud (see filing below), but the punchline is the following extract from lengthy internal email in October 2008 by a JPM trading analyst that raised concerns about Madoff’s investment returns, and which explains why frauds are never caught until it is too late: “The October 16 Memo ended with the observation that: “[t]here are various elements in the story that could make us nervous,” including the fund managers “apparent fear of Madoff, where no one dares to ask any serious questions as long as the performance is good.… personnel at one feeder fund seem[ed] very defensive and almost scared of Madoff. They seem unwilling to ask him any difficult questions and seem to be considering his ‘interests’ before those of the investors. It’s almost a cult he seems to have fostered.”
And there you have the biggest failing of modern capital markets in a nutshell: nobody dares to ask any serious questions as long as the performance is good, and where there a cult-like following of the ringleader (see Central Banks). By the time the performance turns bad, and all the overdue questions are finally asked, it is always too late, and the cult blows up.
What is strangely missing in today’s action by the DOJ, which slams JPM (rightfully), is any mention of the SEC, you know – the regulators – those people whose job it was to catch Madoff in the act. Because while pocketing $1.7 billion from JPM may be an enjoyable exercise in populist propaganda for an administration that suddenly realizes it has created an unprecedented social class hatred schism and needs to punish bankers on a recurring, monthly basis, where is there any mention of the SEC’s fault for being completely oblivious to what JPM uncovered on its own? And yes, JPM did not alert the authorities, but at the end of the day its fiduciary obligations are first and foremost to its shareholders, which it executed, and not to a gullible public which opted for yet another “get rich quick” scheme, hoping foolishly that the SEC has some idea what it is doing.
Finally, we can’t help but wonder: when the current bubble to end all bubbles implodes, who will be punished for failing to point out that the emperor is naked, and that it is the cult of the Federal Reserve and its central bank peers around the globe, that have created the biggest Ponzi scheme the world has ever seen?
For those curious about the details of how JPM succeeded in realizing what the SEC failed to grasp, despite numerous vocal warnings from Harry Markopolos, read on.
From U.S. v. JPMorgan Chase – Deferred Prosecution Agreement Packet, Exhibit C
October 2008: JPMC Concludes In A Report To U.K. Regulators That Madoff s Returns Are Probably Too Good To Be True
In mid-September 2008, following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and growing concerns about counter-party risk, JPMCs Head of Global Equities directed investment bank personnel to substantially reduce JPMC’s exposure to hedge funds, which had increased following JPMCs March 2008 acquisition of Bear Stearns. This directive was reiterated by the Investment Bank Risk Committee on October 3, 2008. Acting at the direction of the Head of Global Equities, the Equity Exotics Desk began analyzing which hedge funds to reduce exposure to, including by directing the Desk’s due diligence analyst (the “Equity Exotics Analyst”) to scrutinize investments in various hedge funds, including the Madoff feeder funds. The Equity Exotics Analyst conducted this due diligence by, among other things, analyzing the reported strategy and returns of Madoff Securities, speaking to personnel at Madoff feeder funds and financial institutions administering Madoff feeder funds, and unsuccessfully seeking from the feeder funds and administrators documentary proof of the assets of Madoff Securities.
On October 16, 2008, the Equity Exotics Analyst wrote a lengthy e-mail to the head of the Equity Exotics Desk and others summarizing his conclusions (the “October 16 Memo”), The October 16 Memo described the inability of JPMC or the feeder funds to validate Madoff s trading activity or custody of assets. The October 16 Memo noted that the feeder funds were audited by major accounting firms, which had issued unqualified opinions for 2007, but questioned Madoff s “odd choice” of a small, unknown accounting firm. The October 16, 2008 Memo reported that personnel from one of the feeder funds “said they were reassured by the claim that FINRA and the SEC performed occasional audits of Madoff,” but that they “appear not to have seen any evidence of the reviews or findings,” The October 16 Memo also questioned the reliability of information provided by the feeder funds and the willingness of the feeder funds to obtain verifying information from Madoff. For example, the memo reported that personnel at one feeder fund “seem[ed] very defensive and almost scared of Madoff. They seem unwilling to ask him any difficult questions and seem to be considering his ‘interests’ before those of the investors. It’s almost a cult he seems to have fostered.” The Equity Exotics Analyst further wrote that there was both a “lack of transparency” into Madoff Securities and “a resistance on the part of Madoff to provide meaningful disclosure.”
The October 16 Memo ended with the observation that: “[t]here are various elements in the story that could make us nervous,” including the fund managers “apparent fear of Madoff, where no one dares to ask any serious questions as long as the performance is good.” The October 16 Memo concluded: “I could go on but we seem to be relying on Madoff s integrity (or the [feeder funds’] belief in Madoff s integrity) and the quality of the due diligence work (initial and ongoing) done by the custodians . . . to ensure that the assets actually exist and are properly custodied, If some[thing] were to happen with the funds, our recourse would be to the custodians and whether they had been negligent or grossly negligent.”
The Head of Due Diligence responded by complimenting the Equity Exotics Analyst on the October 16 Memo, making reference to other long-running fraud schemes, and suggesting in a joking manner that they should visit the Madoff Securities accountant’s office in New City, New York to make sure it was not a “car wash.”
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JPMC’s Redemptions From Madoff Feeder Funds
On October 16, 2008 — the day of the October 16 Memo — an Equity Exotics employee requested by e-mail a “list of all external trades and the exact counterparty trade” for each of the Madoff-related feeder funds, noting that “[t]le list needs to be exhaustive as we may be terminating all of these trades and we cannot afford missing any.” The Equity Exotics Desk, which had already placed redemption orders for approximately $78 million from the Madoff feeder funds between October 1 and October 15, thereafter sought to redeem almost all of its remaining money in the Madoff feeder funds.
In addition to redeeming its positions in the Madoff feeder funds, JPMC sought, with the assistance of legal counsel, to cancel or otherwise unwind certain of the structured products issued related to the performance of the Madoff feeder funds. In an attempt to unwind these transactions, JPMC told the distributors of the Madoff notes that it was invoking a provision of the derivatives contract that enabled it to de-link the notes from the performance of the Madoff feeder funds if JPMC could not obtain satisfactory information about its investment. For example, in a letter dated October 27, 2008,JPMC warned that it would declare a “Lock-In Event” under the terms of the contract unless the recipient — a distributor that the Equity Exotics Analyst had spoken to as part of his due diligence underlying the October 16 Memo — could provide the identity of all of Madoff Securities’ options counterparties by 5:00 PM the following day.
In the Fall of 2008, the amount of JPMC’s position in Madoff feeder funds fell from approximately $369 million at the beginning of October 2008 (which was down slightly from its high-water mark of $379 million, in July 2008) to approximately $81 million at the time of Madoff s arrest, on December 11, 2008 — a reduction of approximately $288 million, or approximately 80% of JPMC’s proprietary capital invested as a hedge in Madoff feeder funds. During the same period, JPMC spent approximately $19 million buying back Madoff-linked notes and approximately $55 million to unwind a swap transaction with a Madoff feeder fund that eliminated JPMC’s contractual obligation with respect to those structured products. When Madoff was arrested, JIPMC booked a loss of approximately $40 million, substantially less than the approximately $250 million it would have lost but for these transactions.
At the same time, the Equity Exotics Desk also held through the time of Madoff s arrest a gap note providing JPMC with $5 million in protection if the value of a Madoff feeder fund collapsed completely. In a November 28, 2008 e-mail, an Equity Exotics banker declined a third party’s request to buy this protective gap note from JPMC, and described the gap note as being “as of today. . . very valuable” to JPMC.