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Trustee's Complaint on JP Morgan

By       Message Lawrence Velvel     Permalink
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[JPMC Employee 2], Risk Officer, Investment

Bank, JPMC, June 15, 2007

1.          The story has been told time and time again how Madoff duped the best and the

brightest in the investment community. The Trustee's investigation reveals a very different story--the story of financial institutions worldwide that were keen to the likely fraud, and decidedly turned a blind eye to it. While numerous financial institutions enabled Madoff's fraud, JPMC was at the very center of that fraud, and thoroughly complicit in it.

2.         JPMC was BLMIS's primary banker for over 20 years, and was responsible for

knowing the business of its customers--in this case, a very large customer. JPMC is a

sophisticated financial institution, and it was uniquely situated to see the likely fraud. Billions of dollars flowed through BLMIS's account at JPMC, the so-called "703 Account," but virtually none of it was used to buy or sell securities as it should have been had BLMIS been legitimate. But if those large transactions that did not jibe with any legitimate business purpose triggered any warnings, they were suppressed as the drive for fees and profits became a substitute for common sense, ethics and legal obligations. It is estimated that JPMC made at least half a billion dollars in fees and profits off the backs of BLMIS's victims, and is responsible for at least $5.4 billion in damages for its role in allowing the Ponzi scheme to continue unabated for years, with an exact amount to be determined at trial.

3.         In addition to being BLMIS's banker, JPMC also profited from the Ponzi scheme

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by selling structured products related to BLMIS feeder funds to its clients. Its due diligence revealed the likelihood of fraud at BLMIS, but JPMC was not concerned with the devastating effect of fraud on investors. Rather, it was concerned only with its own bottom line, and did nothing but a cost-benefit analysis in deciding to become part of Madoff's fraud: "Based on overall estimated size of BLM strategy, . . . it would take [a] . . . fraud in the order of $3bn or more . . . for JPMC to be affected." JPMC also relied on the Securities Investor Protection Corporation ("SIPC") to protect its profits:   JPMorgan's investment in BLM . . . is treated as customer money . . . and therefore [is] covered by SIPC." By the Fall of 2008, in the midst of a worldwide economic downturn, the cost-benefit analysis had changed. JPMC, no longer comfortable with the risk of fraud, decided to redeem its $276 million in investments in BLMIS feeder funds. JPMC also received an additional $145 million in fraudulent transfers from BLMIS in June 2006. The Trustee seeks the return of this money in this Action.

4.         JPMC allowed BLMIS to funnel billions of dollars through the 703 Account by

disregarding its own anti-money laundering duties. From 1986 on, all of the money that Madoff stole from his customers passed through the 703 Account, where it was commingled and ultimately washed. JPMC had everything it needed to unmask the fraud. Not only did it have a clear view of suspicious 703 Account activity, but JPMC was provided with Financial and Operational Combined Uniform Single Reports ("FOCUS Reports") from BLMIS. The FOCUS Reports contained glaring irregularities that should have been probed by JPMC. For example, not only did BLMIS fail to report its loans from JPMC, it also failed to report any commission revenue. JPMC ignored these issues in BLMIS's financial statements. Instead, JPMC lent legitimacy and cover to BLMIS's operations, and allowed BLMIS to thrive as JPMC collected hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and profits and facilitated the largest financial fraud in history.

5.         In addition to the information JPMC obtained as BLMIS's long-time banker,

JPMC also performed due diligence on BLMIS beginning in 2006, using information it obtained from those responsible at JPMC for the 703 Account, as well as information provided by various BLMIS feeder funds. At some point between 2006 and the Fall of 2008, if not before, JPMC unquestionably knew that:

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a.         BLMIS's returns were consistently too good--even in down markets--to be true;

b.         Madoff would not allow transparency into his strategy;

c.         JPMC could not identify, and Madoff would not provide information on, his purported over-the-counter ("OTC") counterparties;

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Lawrence R. Velvel is a cofounder and the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, and is the founder of the American College of History and Legal Studies.

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