Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

November 20, 2013

Reiss on $13B JPMorgan Settlement in CSM

By David Reiss

The Christian Science Monitor quoted me in JPMorgan Chase settles. Is $13 billion for role in mortgage crisis fair? The story reads in part,

The settlement does not, however, release any individuals within JPMorgan from further criminal or civil charges. The bank has agreed to cooperate fully in any investigations related to the fraud covered in the agreement.

“I think that the Department of Justice has heard the public in terms of saying, if people were criminally responsible, they should be held liable,” says David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, who has written extensively on the mortgage crisis. “Just a handful of people have faced any serious personal liability as a result of the events of the financial crisis of the 2000s.”

But some feel that the unprecedented scope and size of the penalty is unfair for the bank behemoth, which was seen as something of a financial savior when it took on the imploding assets of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual after the financial collapse. Some estimate that employees at these banks conducted up to 80 percent of the fraud found by the Justice Department. JPMorgan assumed these firms’ legal jeopardy when it took on their troubled assets.

“There’s a moral narrative about this, that it’s unfair to go after JPMorgan because they stepped in to help,” says Mr. Reiss.

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