JPMorgan Chase to pay record $13 billion for actions in U.S. financial meltdown

By Stuart Pfeifer

Los Angeles Times

JPMorgan Chase & Co. will pay a record $13 billion to resolve allegations that it sold faulty mortgage investments that fueled the 2008 financial crisis, Justice Department and state officials said.

New York Attorney General  Eric T. Schneiderman said the settlement was the largest ever paid by a U.S. company. The settlement requires JPMorgan to pay $9 billion and provide $4 billion in consumer relief, including mortgage modifications for homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

As part of the settlement, JPMorgan acknowledged making serious misrepresentations to the public,  including the investing public, about numerous mortgage-backed securities transactions.

"Without a doubt, the conduct uncovered in this investigation helped sow the seeds of the mortgage meltdown," Attorney General Eric Holder said.  "JPMorgan was not the only financial institution during this period to knowingly bundle toxic loans and sell them to unsuspecting investors, but that is no excuse for the firm’s behavior.  The size and scope of this resolution should send a clear signal that the Justice Department’s financial fraud investigations are far from over."

The Justice Department and JPMorgan had been negotiating for weeks over details of the settlement, which was announced simultaneously by the Justice Department, Schneiderman and Harris.

JPMorgan will also provide $4 billion in relief to aid consumers across the country harmed by the unlawful conduct. That relief will take various forms, including principal forgiveness, loan modification and efforts to reduce blight.

An independent monitor will be appointed to determine whether JPMorgan is satisfying its obligations.

The settlement also calls for JPMorgan to provide financial relief for borrowers and communities, including by refinancing at lower interest rates; donating bank-owned properties or bank-controlled distressed mortgages to nonprofits; and by issuing new mortgage loans to low-and moderate-income families harmed by the financial crisis.