If there was ever any doubt that the recently announced JPMorgan Chase “probe” was merely an early summer’s entertainment to keep the masses distracted, I’d say their hire of this former SEC chief to help them has cleared up that question. The SEC is notorious for its incestuous ties with Wall Street and their all-too-forgiving ways toward their former (and possibly future) employers. (For instance, JPMorgan’s general counsel Stephen Cutler was previously head of enforcement at the SEC.) Why, it’s almost like Capitol Hill!

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the biggest U.S. bank, has hired former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement chief William McLucas to help respond to regulatory probes of the firm’s $2 billion trading loss.

The lender retained law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP, where McLucas is a partner, shortly after the bank disclosed the loss on May 10, said Kristin Lemkau, a spokeswoman for New York-based JPMorgan.

The probes began after JPMorgan traders in London built up positions in illiquid credit derivatives that were so large they distorted market prices and eventually led to what Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon called “self-inflicted” losses that may grow. That spurred reviews by the SEC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Our focus right now is on whether the company’s public disclosure and financial reporting is accurate,” SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said today in congressional testimony. “The agencies collectively, including the criminal authorities, are working very hard to untangle what happened at the firm.”

The SEC is reviewing the accuracy and timing of JPMorgan’s disclosure of changes in how it calculates value-at-risk, or VaR, which shows how much it could lose from trading most days, Schapiro said. The bank changed its VaR model for the chief investment office during the first quarter without telling investors. The new model, which has since been scrapped, had cut the risk estimation almost in half, Dimon told investors May 10.

One thought on “Kabuki

  1. All of the movers and shakers on Wall Street and the plutocrats of the 1% wanted Jamie Dimon to become the Secretary of the Treasury after Giethner leaves off. That ain’t gonna happen no matter who the next president is. We sure do live in strange times.

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