Labaton Sucharow Whistleblower Client Tipped SEC About JPMorgan’s Illegal Mutual Fund Sales to Private Banking Clients

by Jay L. Himes

December 18, 2015

Client Who Reported Securities Violations Led to $267 Million SEC Enforcement Action

NEW YORK (December 18, 2015) – Labaton Sucharow LLP, which established the first national practice exclusively dedicated to representing Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whistleblowers, announced today that one of the Firm’s clients reported the securities violations that led to the SEC’s groundbreaking enforcement action charging J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS) and JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. (JPMCB) with, among other things, preferring to invest clients in the firm’s own proprietary investment products without properly disclosing this preference. This preference impacted two fundamental aspects of money management—asset allocation and the selection of fund managers—and deprived JPMorgan’s clients of information they needed to make fully informed investment decisions.

To resolve this serious matter, J.P. Morgan agreed to pay more than $267 million. Since the inception of the SEC Whistleblower Program, this case is believed to be the largest and highest profile enforcement action initiated by an SEC whistleblower.

Jordan A. Thomas, Chair of Labaton Sucharow’s Whistleblower Representation Practice, represented the whistleblower, a J.P. Morgan executive, who brought the bank’s wrongdoing to the attention of the SEC and cooperated in the agency’s investigation. “My client never wanted to be a whistleblower, but believed the best way to protect J.P. Morgan clients and improve the sales culture of the organization—while avoiding retaliation and blacklisting—was to report these violations to the SEC.”

According to the SEC’s order instituting proceedings, JPMS failed to disclose numerous conflicts of interest to certain wealth management clients from 2008 to 2013:

  • JPMS failed to disclose its preference for J.P. Morgan-managed mutual funds for retail investors in a unified managed account program known as the Chase Strategic Portfolio (CSP) that was sold through Chase Bank branches.
  • JPMS failed to disclose that the availability and pricing of services provided to JPMS by another J.P. Morgan affiliate was tied to the amount of CSP assets invested in J.P. Morgan proprietary products.
  • JPMS failed to disclose that certain J.P. Morgan-managed mutual funds purchased for CSP clients offered a less expensive share class and would generate less revenue for a JPMS affiliate than the share class JPMS chose for CSP clients.
  • JPMS’ Forms ADV for CSP failed to adequately disclose these conflicts of interest.
  • JPMS failed to implement written policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent the violations that occurred.

“J.P. Morgan is a storied financial institution that lost its ethical way by recklessly pursuing market share in a highly lucrative business segment. Winning became more important than being straight with its clients and putting their interests first,” said Mr. Thomas, counsel for the whistleblower and a former Assistant Director in the Enforcement Division of the SEC. “Investors necessarily place their faith in their financial institutions to help them and their families save for the future. The troubling actions revealed in this case, which spanned several years, will test the faith of J.P. Morgan clients and require its many honorable financial advisors to work harder to reestablish this trust.”

Due to the unique protections and incentives offered by the SEC Whistleblower Program, Labaton Sucharow’s client reported the charged securities violations at J.P. Morgan to the SEC. This important investor protection program has broad international reach and offers eligible whistleblowers the ability to report anonymously and the opportunity to earn substantial monetary awards—regardless of nationality. To ensure that adequate funds are available to pay awards, Congress has established a replenishing Investor Protection Fund, which has a current balance in excess of $400 million.

“Financial whistleblowers serve as an important first line of defense against wrongdoing and, as awareness of the SEC Whistleblower Program grows, records will be broken and this groundbreaking enforcement action will seem small, ” added Mr. Thomas, who played a leadership role in the development of the SEC Whistleblower Program.

For more information, contact:
Zach Kouwe Dukas Linden Public Relations


Insights & Analyses

We're attuned to (often ahead of) the key issues facing the market. Our archive is an arsenal. It's about arming investors with the information they need to make sound decisions.