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Better Markets v DOJ in re: $13 Billion JPM Fine, A Question of Trust

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 11, 2014 10:20 AM |

$13 billion is a lot of money even by Wall Street standards.

But is the $13 billion fine imposed on JP Morgan by the Department of Justice an appropriate penalty for the array of transgressions involved? In order to answer that question, one needs to rely on the inputs reviewed and the process utilized by the Department of Justice which meted out this justice.

The inability to undertake just such a review is the crux of the lawsuit brought by Better Markets, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes the public interest in financial reform in the domestic and global capital and commodity markets.” 

Better Markets filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the Justice Department’s authority to unilaterally enter into the unprecedented and historic $13 billion agreement with JP Morgan Chase, which was the largest settlement with a single entity in the nation’s history by more than 300%. The November 2013 agreement gave JP Morgan Chase – with no judicial review or approval – blanket civil immunity for years of alleged pervasive, egregious and knowing fraudulent and illegal conduct that contributed to the 2008 financial crash and the worst economy since the Great Depression.

“The Wall Street bailouts were bad enough, but now taxpayers are being forced to accept a secretive backroom deal that may well have been another sweetheart deal. The Justice Department cannot act as prosecutor, jury and judge and extract $13 billion in exchange for blanket civil immunity to the largest, richest, most politically-connected bank on Wall Street. The executive branch does not have this unilateral power because it violates the constitutional requirement of checks and balances,” said Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, an independent nonprofit organization that promotes the public interest in the financial markets.

“Adding insult to injury, the Department of Justice did all this in an agreement that appears to have been written more to conceal than reveal. For example, it is using the large dollar amount to blind everyone to the reality that they have disclosed no meaningful facts about what JP Morgan Chase did, who did it, who it hurt, how much they profited and how much their clients, customers and others lost. The American people deserve, and the law requires, an independent judicial review to determine whether the settlement is fair and whether it can withstand scrutiny in the light of day,” Mr. Kelleher said.

What is the key question underlying this lawsuit?

Very simply, do we the American public trust the Department of Justice here? While we can rehash a whole slew of bad practices and backdoor bailouts, our justice system relies upon the premise that our public officials will truly act in the public trust and uphold the rule of law in doing so.

The fact that this question of trust is not immediately dismissed is a strong commentary on the state of things in our nation today.

So, I ask you who read this post, “Do you trust the DOJ in the administration of this justice meted out upon JP Morgan?”

Larry Doyle

Please order a copy of my book, In Bed with Wall Street: The Conspiracy Crippling Our Global Economy.

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The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

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