by Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Wall St On Parade:
Yesterday, Bloomberg News reporters Tom Schoenberg and Liam Vaughan broke the story that JPMorgan Chase is under a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over charges of rigging gold, silver and other precious metals markets. Six traders who worked on the precious metals desk at JPMorgan Chase have been indicted thus far but this is the first report that the bank itself is also under a criminal investigation. This marks the fourth criminal probe of the bank in the past 8 years by the U.S. Department of Justice with the bank pleading guilty to three felony counts in two of the prior criminal investigations.
Throughout this serial crime wave, the Board of Directors of JPMorgan Chase has kept Jamie Dimon in his seat as Chairman and CEO. Despite knowing that three of the bank’s traders had been charged under the criminal RICO statute and that the investigation could very likely result in criminal charges against the recidivist bank itself, the Board recently awarded Dimon a pay package of $31.5 million for last year – buttressing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ message that the business model of Wall Street is fraud.
There was a time in America when a criminal probe of the nation’s largest bank, which holds $1.6 trillion in the life savings of moms and pops at more than 5300 bank branches across the country, would have been worthy of a front-page headline. Not today. Crime and fraud are so de rigueur at the bank led by Dimon that not one major newspaper ran the headline on the front page or anywhere else in the paper.
Corporate media is, in fact, complicit in letting Dimon and his Board off the hook. Dimon’s public relations flacks have teamed up with mainstream media to create the false narrative that Dimon is some kind of economic genius and a Wall Street superstar. Bloomberg News itself has perpetuated that myth by portraying Dimon as the man whose greatest mission is to take good care of his customers – despite the hard fact that federal regulators are perpetually documenting how the bank is ripping its customers off in brazen fraudulent actions. As recently as November 10 of last year, Lesley Stahl of the CBS investigative news program, 60 Minutes, interviewed Dimon and strolled through the bank’s trading floor without ever asking Dimon about the unprecedented felony charges the bank has been forced to plead guilty to under his tenure.
Equally outrageous, Dimon was allowed to serve as Chairman of the Business Roundtable for the past three years. His Chairmanship expired this past December 31. The Board of the Business Roundtable includes the CEOs of some of the largest corporations in America and is supposed to set the tone for ethical corporate conduct.
The precious metals case against traders at JPMorgan Chase became public on November 6, 2018 when John Edmonds pleaded guilty to charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice. Edmonds admitted that from approximately 2009 through 2015, he conspired with other precious metals traders at JPMorgan Chase to manipulate the markets for gold, silver, platinum and palladium futures contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and Commodity Exchange Inc. (COMEX).
According to the statement given to the DOJ by Edmonds, his motive was “to make money and avoid losses for himself, his co-conspirators, and the Bank” and he “learned this deceptive trading strategy from more senior traders at the Bank, and he personally deployed this strategy hundreds of times with the knowledge and consent of his immediate supervisors.”
On August 24, 2019, another trader at JPMorgan Chase, Christian Trunz, pleaded guilty to the DOJ for manipulating the precious metals market from approximately July 2007 and August 2016.