A fine of that size -- to settle a variety of charges against the bank -- would be the alrgdest ever imposed on a U.S. company, the Journal said Friday. Citing sources it did not identify, the newspaper said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer James Dimon have held talks about the settlement but the primary focus of the discussion was the wording, not the amount, of the settlement.
JPMorgan is seeking wording in an agreement that would end one or more of the criminal investigations focusing its alleged misrepresentation of securities sold to investors before the financial crisis of 2008-09.
The Justice Department is pressing for wording that would include an admission of wrongdoing. The bank is resisting that option, which is seen as potentially making it easier for follow up civil lawsuits.
The bank is also seeking to settle similar investigations undertaken by the Federal Housing Finance Agency and New York State.
FHFA has regulatory jurisdiction over the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., known as Freddie Mac, and the Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae, both of which purchase bundled mortgages, called securities, from bank to keep liquidity available in the finance industry for future mortgage loans.
New York State's investigation concerns securities sold by Bear Stearns, an investment firm that collapsed in 2009. JPMorgan purchased the bulk of Bear Stearns' assets as it was going under.
Holder said Thursday he would not disclose details of the discussion. He said companies that manipulate markets are "a priority for this Justice Department."
Federal regulators announced this month JPMorgan Chase will pay $920 million in fines for failure to correctly assess trading risks, poor quality control and inaccurate reporting leading to billions of dollars in losses for traders.