A good Madoff scoop from the Times this morning is also interesting for how it came about: a collaboration with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.
The story reports that JPMorgan had $250 million with one of the now-notorious Madoff feeder funds until early this fall as a way to hedge its exposure to a bet it was allowing customers to make on that fund, run by Fairfield Greenwich.
But the bank suddenly yanked its money out less than three months before Madoff was exposed:
A source close to JPMorgan Chase, however, recalled bank officials saying that the bank’s “due-diligence people had too many doubts” about the performance of the underlying funds.
“They felt the consistency of its performance wasn’t any longer credible” given the downturn in the overall market, the source said. He added: “Just three months before that, I remember that they were ready to issue more notes.”
The problem for JPMorgan is, it didn’t warn the investors whose big bets on Madoff it was enabling.
This is good here:
Some investors now note that Mr. Madoff maintained several accounts with JPMorgan Chase, and wonder if the parent bank saw trouble brewing in those accounts and got its London affiliate out of Fairfield before the storm hit.
A more skittish editor might have chopped that out as innuendo, but under the circumstances I think it works, especially since it has an expert saying that doing so would be legal.
This anonymous guy had the wrong idea about Wall Street:
He said that when he saw JPMorgan Chase “put its brand name” on the Fairfield notes, “I thought that there was no more reason to remain cautious.” He added, “For me, the JPMorgan notes were the final imprimatur of Sentry’s financial soundness.”
This one could get very interesting.Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.