JPMorgan agreed to pay $410 million to settle accusations that it used “manipulative schemes” to tilt prices in the energy markets. $125 million is a return of profits allegedly made from the schemes; $285 million is a civil penalty. The accusations were brought by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which saw its purview and powers expanded in 2005 after Enron’s collapse caught the government by surprise. The three traders (Francis Dunleavy, Andrew Kittell and John Bartholomew) primarily responsible for the unit accused of manipulation–in which the bank created a situation where state energy operators were forced to pay more than market rates–were not charged and still work at JPMorgan.
Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg notes that in “July 2011 JPMorgan entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department’s antitrust division in which the company promised that for two years it would ‘commit no violation of any United States federal criminal law.'” To those who believed that the big bank–like everyone else–already tacitly operated under this obligation, the redundancy sounds ridiculous. The manipulation described in the just-settled suit occurred from 2010 to 2012. In the FERC-negotiated agreement stipulating the $410 million payment, JPMorgan “neither admits nor denies the violations.” But the company does admit “the facts.”