US Accuses JPMorgan of Manipulation, Reach $410M Settlement

Image: US Accuses JPMorgan of Manipulation, Reach $410M Settlement

Wednesday, 31 Jul 2013 11:24 AM

By Morgan Chilson

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After the U.S. accused JPMorgan Chase & Co. of manipulating California's energy market in 2010 and 2011, the company and U.S. regulators have reached a $410 million settlement.

A FERC press release said the JPMorgan Ventures Energy Corp. will pay the penalties and “disgorgement,” defined by Investopedia as a repayment of ill-gotten gains, to ratepayers in California.

The problem came from “allegations of market manipulation stemming fom the company’s bidding activities in electricity markets in California nad the Midwest from Setpember 2010 through November 2012,” the FERC release said.

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The agreement means JPMorgan will repay $285 million to the U.S. Treasury and return $125 million in unjust profits to ratepayers.

“JPMVEC admits the facts set forth in the agreement, but neither admits nor denies the violations,” the release said. “JPMVEC also will conduct a comprehensive assessment by outside counsel of its policies and practices in the power business.”

FERC said the case came after multiple referrals regarding JPMVEC’s bidding practices, and the organization’s investigators found that JPMVEC engaged in “12 manipulative bidding strategies designed to make profits from power plants that were usually out of the money in the marketplace.”

A JPMorgan spokesman said in a statement that the settlement wouldn’t have a “material impact” on earnings because the money would be drawn from reserves set aside for the costs, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The Times said Barclays, a British bank, was ordered to pay $453 million for manipulating energy markets, including those in California, from 2006 to 2008. The newspaper said Barclays plans to fight the FERC decision.

The lack of admission of guilt came under attack in the comments section on articles about the decision, along with what some thought was a low fine. Said RonMcConaughy on the LA Times website: “$410M, wow, that’s almost a drop in the JP Morgan bucket. Somebody came close to almost making a noise like they were almost thinking about getting kind of serious.”

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