NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Warren Buffett once said, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 seconds to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."
It's no glowing endorsement to regard JPMorgan Chase (JPM) as the cleanest shirt in a dirty hamper. Yet I always regard that as an appropriate label, given the list of the villains that created the financial crisis. Today, however, that sentiment changed. Where do we begin?
It would be a gross understatement to say that the now infamous "London Whale" trade, which saw the bank lose more than $6 billion in complicated maneuvers, has knocked some shine off JPMorgan's armor. Criminal indictments have been filed against two former traders accused of attempting to cover up the losses and JPMorgan has been implicated for what regulators consider "manipulative market practices."
The bank opted to settle these charges for $13 billion, which includes no admission of wrongdoing. Still, given the strength of the bank's balance sheet and its deep pockets, I do question why JPMorgan resisted the fight. Not to mention, the settlement, which still leaves the door open for other criminal cases, does not release JPMorgan or any individuals from further prosecution related to the mortgage scandal.
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