Back in late 2008, when the sky was darkening over the head of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (PINK:LEHMQ) JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) was a main lending source to the investment bank just before the collapse. Now, the government is coming after JP Morgan in what has been called ‘the government’s first enforcement case to come out of Lehman Brothers’. The CFTC is looking to file a civil case against JP Morgan sometime this week. However, everyone expects JP Morgan to just settle the suit and pay the $20 million fine.
The reason why the government is filing a lawsuit against JP Morgan is because they believe that JP Morgan wrongly assessed Lehman’s worth and opened a substantial credit line to the bank which is then tied to Lehman’s misuse of customer funds. The kicker here is that those funds that JP Morgan opened up were partially customer money. Currently, we do not know whether JP Morgan knew that the money they were lending to Lehman was customer funds but it is illegal to knowingly open a line of credit with customer funds. The customer funds came from the futures trading section of JP Morgan. The agency further rips JP Morgan and says that the investment was “withholding” Lehman customer funds for almost two weeks before turning them in to federal authorities.
This seems to be a familiar trend lately with JP Morgan. Look at where the investment bank was tied to the firm as having the missing customer funds. There is definitely more to these stories than just what you read, no doubt. It is just very suspicious how JP Morgan has been involved with two failed firms and happened to have customer funds from both firms at the time when both failed.
On the other hand, the CFTC is working overtime after MF Global. Earlier this week, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is reportedly suing the Royal Bank of Canada on the grounds that the bank had been engaging in “wash trading” over a three year span to take advantage of tax benefits. Obviously, the CFTC was told to wake up after the MF Global nightmare.
The bottom line is that JP Morgan has been tied to some pretty shady events lately and it should be interesting if the Feds take a more in depth look to see if JP Morgan played a larger role in the demise of these firms.