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JPMorgan ‘Whale’ Warnings Ignored

Bruno Iksil, known as “the London Whale” for trades which resulted in the loss of more than $5 billion at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), was concerned about the size of trades he was making, but his concerns were ignored by the investment bank’s management. That information comes from a US Senate panel currently reviewing the trades.

The news was initially reported by Wall Street Journal writers Dan Fitzpatrick, Gregory Zuckerman, and Scott Patterson earlier today. According to that report, Iksil was concerned about the size of the trades he was making, and he expressed those concerns to coworkers. His concerns were not taken under consideration, or, at the very least, did not lead to cessation of the trades.

We have looked at the London Whale trades several times before, speculating on the motives behind the big moves, and covering hedge fund managers, like Boaz Weinstein of Saba Capital, who were instrumental in bringing the trade to its conclusion, and saddling JPMorgan with confidence weakening losses.

In one email to a coworker, Bruno Iksil called the size of the trades he was making scary. The trader’s emails show that he was worried about the trades he was making as early as January 2012. Iksil’s trading was not stopped until some months later.

The Senate Panel currently investigating the occurence is attempting to discern whether JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) failed to disclose the proper information to the Office of Comptroller of Currency, (OCC) the major regulator involved, or whether that office failed to do it job in assessing the risks presented by the trades made in London.

As early as January 30 of 2012, Iksil recommended that the bank liquidate its position in the obscure index immediately, and take the losses already accumulated. That request was denied, and he was told to continue trading, despite the risks. In the weeks following that recommendation, chains of communication at the investment bank appeared to break down.

The resolution of this investigation is important, because it will give a valuable look into the workings at JPMorgan headquarters, and particularly its Central Investment Office. JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, described the coverage of such propriety trading as a “tempest in a teapot” before the full extent of the losses.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), having absorbed those losses as only a behemoth financial institution can, is still inextricably tied in the consequences. The findings of the Senate, and its own internal report, might change the way the company does business forever.  The investigation into the trade will continue, though the true narrative of what occurred at JPMorgan may never be full uncovered.

Despite the revelations, hares in the company are trading at their highest levels of the last twelve months today, higher than they were before the announcement of the massive losses at the investment bank. The market doesn’t appear to care about process, it just cares about results, and JPMorgan, despite the loss, is delivering them.