SAN FRANCISCO ( TheStreet) -- JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) is under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice over the handing of its foreign exchange trading business, the bank disclosed Monday in a federal filing.
The criminal investigation adds to JPMorgan's legal woes over its foreign exchange trading practices, which are already subject to a number of civil investigations from U.S. banking regulators to civil enforcement authorities to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The focus of these investigations center on whether JPMorgan rigged the global currency market.
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In making its disclosure about the DOJ criminal investigation, JPMorgan also noted that the total range of "reasonably possible losses" for all of the litigation that if faces could reach approximately $5.9 billion in excess of the reserves it has established for its legal proceedings. As a result, it could impact JPMorgan's earnings should these losses reach beyond the reserves it had set aside. The bank is already feeling the effect of some of this litigation on its earnings.
In its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, JPMorgan stated:
DOJ is conducting a criminal investigation, and various regulatory and civil enforcement authorities, including U.S. banking regulators, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) and other foreign government authorities, are conducting civil investigations, regarding the Firm’s foreign exchange ("FX") trading business.
These investigations are focused on the Firm's spot FX trading activities as well as controls applicable to those activities.
The Firm continues to cooperate with these investigations and is currently engaged in discussions with DOJ, and various regulatory and civil enforcement authorities, about resolving their respective investigations with respect to the Firm. There is no assurance that such discussions will result in settlements.
Since November 2013, a number of class actions have been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against a number of foreign exchange dealers, including the Firm, for alleged violations of federal and state antitrust laws and unjust enrichment based on an alleged conspiracy to manipulate foreign exchange rates reported on the WM/Reuters service. In March 2014, plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended class action complaint, which defendants moved to dismiss in May 2014.
JPMorgan's criminal and civil investigations are part of a broader investigation underway into the foreign exchange trading controversy. This controversy has also ensnared a number of big name banks from Citigroup (C) to HSBC (HBC) over allegations that these institutions also allegedly manipulated global currency prices.
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At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
TheStreet Ratings team rates JPMORGAN CHASE & CO as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate JPMORGAN CHASE & CO (JPM) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in stock price during the past year, compelling growth in net income, impressive record of earnings per share growth and notable return on equity. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: JPM Ratings Report