Jamie Dimon's little teapot is looking more Thunderdome than short and stout lately. Isn't it?
Not that you're going to find him anywhere near it.
U.S. prosecutors fired off criminal charges on Wednesday against two former JPMorgan Chase (JPM) workers involved in the "London Whale" trades that cost the bank $6.2 billion last year. In a wild twist, the "Whale" himself, trader Bruno Iksil, was not accused with his former colleagues Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout of what now being characterized as a rogue trade, seemingly because he pushed back against the pair's efforts to cook the books to hide their losses. Iksil is cooperating with the government about the scandal, which CEO Jamie Dimon originally dismissed as a "tempest in a teapot."Speaking of Jamie, where is that guy anyway? Dimon? Dimon? Bueller? Yeah, just like we didn't see Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein anywhere near the trial of his formerly fabulous employee-turned-convicted-fraudster Fabrice Tourre -- although he was footing Fab's legal bills -- we doubt we'll see Jamie joining hands with Javier and Julien as they enter the courtroom. Now that the Feds have put these two foreign faces to the alleged fraud, Jamie can finally exhale because his mug is no longer associated with the case. Sorry, Javier and Julien. It's your Whale now. Alas, Jamie exits the scene with his luxurious hair unruffled, while these two nobodies become the poster boys for all the troubles at the nation's largest bank. (More precisely, "Wanted" poster boys since we are still waiting to learn of their extradition. Grout is French, while Martin-Artajo is Spanish and both live overseas.) Yes, once again, we know that despite taking $6.2 billion in reported Whale losses, the nation's largest bank still managed to earn a record $21.3 billion, or $5.20 a share during 2012. So perhaps this whole debacle was "not that big a deal," which is what Jamie called the scandal back in May 2012. Nevertheless, according to the Justice Department's criminal complaint, Martin-Artajo and others "artificially increased the market value of securities in order to hide the true extent of hundreds of millions of dollars of losses." And while that's chump change to JPMorgan Chase, it's real money in the real world and certainly enough to reopen the discussion as to whether the nation's largest bank can be run from the famous "To-Do List" in Jamie Dimon's pocket. Simply because Jamie can now point the finger at these two jokers does not address the problem that his bank is too big to manage. Or fail. -- Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York Follow @5gsonthestreet
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