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Emails Prove JPMorgan Committed Massive Mortgage Fraud

February 25, 2013
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Source: New York Times Dealbook

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has tried his best to suggest that the financial crisis was someone else's fault. But a batch of court documents released this week undermine this claim, indicating that the bank knew the mortgage investments it sold were seriously flawed.

According to the documents, which include emails and transcripts of employee interviews filed in an investor lawsuit by Europe's Dexia Bank, JPMorgan hired independent analysts to review the quality of the home loans it was packaging for sale prior to the collapse of the housing market.

That review found that 20 to 80 percent of the mortgages did not meet underwriting standards, Bloomberg reports. These documents show that JPMorgan bundled these mortgages into complex securities anyway and then sold them to investors without disclosing their problems, according to Bloomberg and the New York Times.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Dexia, a Belgian-French bank, is being closely watched on Wall Street. After suffering significant losses, Dexia sued JPMorgan and its affiliates in 2012, claiming it had been duped into buying $1.6 billion of troubled mortgage-backed securities. The latest documents could provide a window into a $200 billion case that looms over the entire industry.

According to the court documents, an analysis for JPMorgan in September 2006 found that “nearly half of the sample pool” — or 214 loans — were “defective,” meaning they did not meet the underwriting standards. The borrowers’ incomes, the firms found, were dangerously low relative to the size of their mortgages. Another troubling report in 2006 discovered that thousands of borrowers had already fallen behind on their payments.

But JPMorgan at times dismissed the critical assessments or altered them, the documents show. Certain JPMorgan employees, including the bankers who assembled the mortgages and the due diligence managers, had the power to ignore or veto bad reviews.

In some instances, JPMorgan executives reduced the number of loans considered delinquent, the documents show. In others, the executives altered the assessments so that a smaller number of loans were considered “defective.”

In some instances, JPMorgan executives reduced the number of loans considered delinquent, the documents show. In others, the executives altered the assessments so that a smaller number of loans were considered “defective.”

The court documents make clear that JPMorgan employees were well aware of these flaws and even exchanged emails about them. For example, after a review finding that at least 1,154 mortgages were delinquent, JPMorgan told investors that only 25 loans were delinquent.

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