It has recently come out that JPMorgan Chase has been fined $920 million “to settle US civil and criminal charges over fake trades in precious metals and Treasury futures designed to manipulate the market.” According to an Agence France-Presse report in RawStory:
“In one of the schemes, JPMorgan traders in New York, London and Singapore between 2008 and 2016 commissioned tens of thousands of orders for gold, silver, platinum and palladium futures that were placed in order to be canceled to deceive other market participants, the Department of Justice (DOJ), one of three agencies involved in the case, said in a press release.
Over the same rough time period, traders in JPMorgan offices in London and New York commissioned orders to buy and sell US Treasury products with the intent of misleading other traders.”
Before we get excited about the effects of this seemingly-large fine, consider that JPMorgan paid a much larger sum of $13 billion in 2013 for the massive role their fraudulent practices played in the 2008 crash. This was reportedly more than half of their profits for the previous year at the time. Clearly, even that didn’t have much effect, as their activities since then show. Why should it? The banks know that no matter what happens, the government will keep them whole, and the executives know that they’ll still get their bonuses. They also know that they won’t be held accountable, because jail is only for poor people.
But wait, there’s more: as it turns out, JPMorgan seems to have paid the fines from the 2008 mortgage crisis with other people’s money in yet another apparent scam. The more you look, the uglier the picture gets. As David Dayen wrote in The Nation:
“JPMorgan’s litany of acknowledged criminal abuses over the past decade reads like a rap sheet, extending well beyond mortgage fraud to encompass practically every part of the bank’s business.”
This is the bank that still gets described in Forbes as “one of America’s most well-respected and top-tier banks,” and CNBC says that JPMorgan was able to post record revenues despite the recession “because of shrewd moves made under CEO Jamie Dimon.” That’s one way to put it.
Even when they aren’t engaging in fraud and other criminal activities, they’re often up to no good. A report from the Rainforest Action Network in 2017 showed them to be the “#1 Wall Street Funder of Extreme Fossil Fuels,” including tar sands.
While we’re on the subject of funding, here are some of the politicians who received contributions from JPMorgan affiliates during the 2020 cycle:
Under the “Revolving Door” section, the profile for JPMorgan Chase on OpenSecrets.org also shows that “34 out of 38 JPMorgan Chase & Co lobbyists in 2019 have previously held government jobs,” and it lists their “Bill Most Frequently Lobbied in the 116th Congress” as H.R.748, otherwise known as the CARES Act.
So, while they commit fraud on a massive scale, they’re getting praised in the mainstream press, and spreading their influence around Washington. But don’t worry, Jamie Dimon says they do these kinds of things to “support our country.”