JPMorgan Chase shareholders group takes aim at directors

May 4, 2013 at 11:47 AM
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NEW YORK, May 4 (UPI) -- A major shareholder said it will vote against several JPMorgan Chase directors this month, accusing them of failing to control risks at the largest U.S. bank.

CtW Investment Group -- which works with union-sponsored pension funds -- owns 6 million shares of JPMorgan valued at $285 million. That hardly makes it the bank's largest shareholder, but the group has been vocal about its discontent with board members who failed to prevent a trading loss in 2012 that topped $6 billion.

The shareholder group met with bank directors in 2011 to discuss the issue of controlling risky bets, The New York Times reported Saturday.

After the losses, which have provoked a series of regulatory investigations, the shareholders felt their concerns had been ignored, the Times said.

"What we have learned over the past year is that the performance of the risk committee is even worse than we thought. Their behavior is a combination of being out at sea and asleep at the wheel. Both are bad and together they are disastrous," said CtW's research director Richard Clayton.

Longtime bank director James Crown is chairman of the JPMorgan risk policy committee, which also includes David Cote, Timothy Flynn and Ellen Futter, who joined the risk committee in August 2012.

In addition, CtW said it would not support director Laban Jackson, chairman of the bank's audit committee.

Individually, the bank directors could survive a vote to retain their seats on the board. But a close vote could be seen as a loss of shareholders' confidence and prompt a resignation, the Times said.

A key issue at the annual shareholder meeting in Tampa, Fla., May 21, is whether to allow James Dimon to continue as both chief executive officer and board chairman.

Dimon's bonus pay was cut more than 50 percent due to the losses, which originated at a JPMorgan trading office in London. The bank's board also retrieved $100 million in employee bonus options in what is known as a "claw-back," that is available to them when trading bets go wrong.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is focusing on whether the bank used fraudulent documents to collect on overdue credit-card loans. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is investigating possible manipulation of the energy markets, the Times said.

In a confidential document, the commission has accused JPMorgan board member Blythe Masters of lying under oath.

"We strongly dispute that Blythe Masters or any employee lied or acted inappropriately in this matter," bank spokeswoman Kristin Lenkau said.

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