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JPMorgan Targeted by SEC Over Trading Losses

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting a civil investigation into JPMorgan Chase's (JPM - Get Report) $2 billion derivatives loss, according to a New York Times report.

The SEC has opened a "preliminary investigation" of the bank's accounting practices and disclosures around the losses announced after Thursday's market close. The regulator's New York office will run the probe and review JPMorgan's trades and statements from executives running up to the Thursday's bombshell announcement, according to the Times report, which cited unnamed sources.

In an unscheduled conference call, CEO Jamie Dimon revealed that the bank's Chief Investment Office has suffered a trading loss of $2 billion in its synthetic credit portfolio, offset by a $1 billion securities gain, as a strategy to re-hedge its portfolio backfired. Dimon described the trades as "flawed, poorly reviewed, poorly executed" and reflected "sloppiness" and " bad judgment."

News of a JPMorgan trader holding large credit positions was first reported by Bloomberg on April 5. In an April 13 earnings call, Dimon dismissed the story as a "complete tempest in a teapot" and that it was executives' "job to invest our portfolio wisely and intelligently."

Dimon explained that he and bank management did not reveal losses during the conference call or subsequent meetings because of securities laws, citing Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD), which governs how public companies communicate with analysts and investors.

In the conference call Thursday, Dimon apologized to analysts for not disclosing the losses. "A lot of us have met with analysts this week, buy-side and sell-side," Dimon said. "And we feel terrible because we obviously knew a lot, but because of FD we couldn't say anything."

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