In much of the United States, if a person is convicted of a felony after conviction on two prior felonies, they receive a severe prison sentence. It’s known as the Three Strikes Law. But if you are the largest bank in the United States, charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with five felony counts since 2014, along with other major crimes for which you are given a non-prosecution agreement, not only do you not get harsher treatment for each new criminal act, but you actually get two federal law enforcement agencies doing damage control for you.
We’re talking about JPMorgan Chase and its cozy relationship with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and certain officials within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Take, for example, what happened on June 22 of this year. The SEC issued a Cease-and-Desist order against the securities unit of JPMorgan Chase for permanently deleting 47 million emails, many of which were under subpoena or document requests from its regulators, including the SEC. (One could be forgiven for thinking that sounds a lot like obstruction of justice by a serial lawbreaker. JPMorgan Chase said Deletion-Gate was all one big accident.)
Despite the unprecedented criminal history of this bank – which garnered it a comparison to the Gambino crime family in a book by two trial lawyers – the SEC imposed a minor fine of $4 million for disappearing 47 million emails. That’s 8.5 cents for each permanently destroyed email that might have brought more criminal charges against the bank.
Making the SEC look like a complete patsy for JPMorgan Chase and its Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, the SEC did not issue its customary press release for this settlement agreement. We checked the listing of press releases issued in June and there was nothing about this 47 million email disappearance. We contacted the SEC and inquired if, indeed, they had failed to issue a press release. The SEC confirmed that no press release had been issued. We sent a new email asking why the SEC has skipped the customary press release. We heard nothing further.
Federal regulators are not the only folks that needed to get their hands on those 47 million emails at a criminally-inclined JPMorgan Chase. The Attorney General of the U.S. Virgin Islands has been taking discovery in federal court for months, with demands for emails and other documents, in its lawsuit charging the bank with “actively participating” in the sex trafficking of minors with Jeffrey Epstein. The U.S. Virgin Islands has produced evidence that the bank facilitated 9,000 financial transactions totaling more than $2.4 billion for Epstein in his accounts at the bank, which allowed him to pay off his victims, procurers and other accomplices for more than a decade. According to the U.S. Virgin Islands, JPMorgan Chase also failed to file the legally-mandated Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) as Epstein pulled hundreds of thousands of dollars in hard cash from his accounts, year after year. (JPMorgan Chase’s first two felony counts in 2014 resulted from laundering money for Ponzi mastermind Bernie Madoff and failing to file Suspicious Activity Reports in the U.S. — despite telling U.K. regulators that Madoff might be running a Ponzi scheme.)
Epstein was charged by the DOJ with sex trafficking of minors in July 2019, after it looked the other way for 12 years. It took a James Patterson book, Filthy Rich, and an in-depth series of articles by investigative reporter Julie Brown in the Miami Herald in 2018 for the DOJ to be shamed into bringing criminal charges against Epstein in 2019, despite having a file filled with the testimony of dozens of victims since 2007. The DOJ has yet to bring charges against Epstein’s very accommodating bank, JPMorgan Chase.
The absence of the customary press release in June from the SEC is reminiscent of what the DOJ did in 2020 when JPMorgan Chase notched its fourth and fifth felony count in its belt.
On September 29, 2020, with all eyes on a pivotal presidential debate that evening, the DOJ announced its fourth and fifth felony counts against JPMorgan Chase. Without explanation, the DOJ skipped the customary press conference, the giant poster board with a summary of the charges, and the stage lined with its prosecutors.
What the DOJ charged the bank with that day was absolutely stunning and should have made bold, front page headlines in newspapers across America. By skipping the press conference and the clever timing on the eve of the presidential debate, the DOJ minimized attention from the public and the press.
The DOJ charged JPMorgan Chase with engaging in “tens of thousands of instances of unlawful trading in gold, silver, platinum, and palladium…as well as thousands of instances of unlawful trading in U.S. Treasury futures contracts and in U.S. Treasury notes and bonds…”
The U.S. Treasury market is essential to the United States being able to pay its bills; raise money efficiently; and maintain the trust of our allies in our sovereign debt instruments. Rigging the Treasury market is about as close to financial treason as a Wall Street firm can get; especially when JPMorgan Chase’s securities unit is one of the Fed’s primary dealers and is contractually bound to bid in Treasury auctions.
But instead of prosecuting the bank, the DOJ handed JPMorgan a deferred-prosecution agreement (its third in six years) and put it on probation.
In 1991, when Salomon Brothers made headlines for rigging the Treasury market, its Chairman and CEO, John Gutfreund, stepped down. Its President, Thomas Strauss, also stepped down.
But after JPMorgan Chase admitted to rigging the Treasury market, its Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, was allowed by the DOJ to remain at the helm of the bank and its Board of Directors, insanely, gave Dimon a $50 million bonus.
The deal crafted by the DOJ was so sweet that it noted in its settlement agreement that “an independent compliance monitor was unnecessary” despite also revealing that the bank “did not voluntarily and timely disclose to the Fraud Section and the Office the conduct described in the Statement of Facts.” (The fact that this was the bank’s fifth felony count in six years might have also suggested that an independent monitor was not only necessary but essential.)
It has become crystal clear that neither the SEC nor the DOJ can effectively deal with the crime wave at JPMorgan Chase. Each American must call their Senators today and demand the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate and prosecute this bank, starting with its facilitation of the sex trafficking of children. You can reach your Senators through the Capitol Switchboard at phone number (202) 224-3121.
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