Sunday, November 19, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: JPMorgan misdeeds deserve more than a big fine

RECOMMENDED READING


Only in the financial industry can a giant-size fraud be wiped away by writing a big enough check. A whopper settlement deal is in the works in which JPMorgan Chase would pay a record $11 billion or more to the Justice Department to end federal investigations into its behavior in the runup to the financial crisis. But if the settlement is to serve as a warning for the rest of the financial industry, it must include an admission of wrongdoing and hold open the possibility that individuals be held personally responsible.

A recent meeting between Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's chief, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demonstrates how spooked Wall Street gets when the government takes seriously its duty to enforce laws against misleading and cheating investors. Now the department should press its advantage, not just by jacking up the dollar figure but by requiring admissions by the firm and personal liability for some. The financiers on Wall Street got fabulously rich by packaging, rating and selling securities that many knew were worthless. It is infuriating that they have not been prosecuted.

JPMorgan is in the middle of a campaign to get out from under the crush of litigation and regulatory investigations. Just weeks ago the firm agreed to pay about $920 million in penalties to government regulators over its lack of internal oversight controls that led to $6.2 billion in "London Whale" trading losses last year. In that settlement it did admit wrongdoing. But the pattern in settlements between the government and banks involved in wrongdoing associated with the financial crisis has been a form of checkbook justice. Write a large check and buy yourself out of trouble. For instance, in 2010 Goldman Sachs paid $550 million to settle charges of materially misleading investors in the sale of mortgage-related securities. It admitted no wrongdoing.

An $11 billion settlement is significant, but it doesn't come close to making up for the financial damage caused by the sale of toxic mortgage securities. It is also unfair that the people who sold investments they allegedly knew were junk will escape with their millions intact. Government-imposed fines and penalties would come from the firm's shareholders and potentially taxpayers, since the payout could be tax-deductible.

If Holder wants his legacy to be something other than letting Wall Street off the hook, he will need to extract something beyond a big check. He cannot allow JPMorgan to walk away from its misdeeds without the kind of accountability that people who don't have billions of dollars at their disposal would face.

Comments

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17