Boca Raton Bank Fraud Attorney :: JPMorgan to Pay Over $2.5 Billion for Covering Up Madoff Fraud

January 8, 2014

The Feds are alleging that as early as 1998, there were red flags with the JPMorgan “703 account”, an account that Bernie Madoff banked through. And, in 2008, the bank’s London desk circulated a memo describing JPMorgan’s inability to validate his trading activity or custody of assets and concerns over his “odd choice” of a one-man accounting firm, the government said.

Bank records show that funds were being transferred back and forth from the 703 account for no reason. Madoff was recording double-digit returns on investments that were “too good to be true.” The bank itself was worried enough about possible fraud to withdraw about $300 million of its own money from Madoff feeder funds, three months before the Madoff Ponzi scheme was exposed by authorities.

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When Madoff finally revealed to the FBI that his investment advisory business was a Ponzi scheme in December 2008, fictitious account statements for thousands of clients showed $60 billion in assets. Of the roughly $17.5 billion in principal that was real, most of it was gone.

For keeping quiet about its suspicions, on Tuesday, JPMorgan agreed to forfeit $1.7 billion to settle criminal charges alleging it turned a blind eye to the Madoff bank fraud, plus it will pay an additional $543 million to settle civil claims by victims. The bank will also will pay a $350 million civil penalty for what the Treasury Department called “critical and widespread deficiencies” in its programs to prevent money laundering and other suspicious activity.

According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara:

“Despite all these alarm bells, JPMorgan never closed or even seriously questioned Madoff’s Ponzi-enabling 703 account …On the other hand, when it came to its own money, JPMorgan knew how to connect the dots and take action to protect itself against risk.”

In a statement, JPMorgan said it recognized it “could have done a better job pulling together various pieces of information and concerns about Madoff from different parts of the bank over time.”

The settlement includes a so-called two year “deferred prosecution agreement” that requires the bank to acknowledge failures in its protections against money laundering and to pay the $1.7 billion into a fund established for victims of Madoff’s fraud, in exchange for avoiding criminal charges. (No individual executives were accused of wrongdoing.) It also resolves two felony violations of the Bank Secrecy Act in connection with the bank’s relationship with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities–the private investment arm of Madoff’s former business.

It is believed by prosecutors that the $1.7 billion forfeiture is the largest in history by a U.S. bank and the largest Department of Justice penalty for a Bank Secrecy Act violation.

Are you being investigated for bank or wire fraud? By working with a Boca Raton bank fraud defense attorney at Whittel & Melton, you are putting yourself in a position to effectively fight a 30-year federal prison sentence and the enormous fines associated with these charges.

Our attorneys consult with financial experts and investigators to leave no stone unturned in building the strongest possible defense for our clients. Many times, we are able to keep our clients from being charged, are able to present the prosecution with evidence that mitigates the charge to a lesser charge, or are able to get a case dismissed completely.

Call us today at (561) 367-8777 to discuss your case.

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