Official: $11B eyed in JPMorgan settlement talks

Associated PressSeptember 26, 2013 

ALBANY, N.Y. -- An $11 billion national settlement is under discussion to resolve claims over JPMorgan's handling of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the recession, said a government official familiar with ongoing negotiations among bank, federal and state officials.

The Justice Department is taking the lead on the settlement, which would include $7 billion in cash and $4 billion in consumer relief, though the deal also would include states with claims against the bank, the official said. The official spoke Wednesday with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a settlement hasn't been reached and the person wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly.

The government has continued investigating JPMorgan over mortgage-backed securities, which lost value after a bubble in the housing market burst and helped spur the financial crisis.

The company declined to comment Wednesday.

In January 2012, a task force of federal and state law enforcement officials set up a task force to pursue wrongdoing with regard to mortgage securities.

The Justice Department last month accused Bank of America Corp., the second-largest U.S. bank, of civil fraud in failing to disclose risks and misleading investors in its sale of $850 million of mortgage bonds in 2008. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related lawsuit. The government estimates that investors lost more than $100 million on the deal. Bank of America is disputing the allegations.

Last week, JPMorgan agreed to pay $920 million and admitted that it failed to oversee trading that led to a $6 billion loss last year. That combined amount, in settlements with three U.S. regulators and a British one, is one of the largest fines ever levied against a financial institution.

JPMorgan came through the financial crisis in better shape than most of its rivals and CEO Jamie Dimon had charmed lawmakers and commanded the attention of regulators in Washington.

A number of big banks, including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, previously have been accused of abuses in sales of securities linked to mortgages in the run-up to the crisis. Together they have paid hundreds of millions in penalties to settle civil charges brought by the SEC, which accused them of deceiving investors about the quality of the bonds they sold.

JPMorgan settled SEC charges in June 2011 by agreeing to pay $153.6 million and reached another such agreement for $296.9 million in November.

The banks in all the SEC cases were allowed to neither admit nor deny wrongdoing -- a practice that brought criticism of the agency from judges and investor advocates.

Associated Press writer Marcy Gordon in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

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