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JPMorgan may settle U.S., UK 'Whale' probes for $600 million: source

Two men walk past the front desk inside of the headquarters of JPMorgan Chase & Co bank in New York, March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Two men walk past the front desk inside of the headquarters of JPMorgan Chase & Co bank in New York, March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

By Emily Flitter

NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co is in talks with a group of regulators, including U.S. prosecutors, to settle probes of the bank's "London Whale" trading losses last year for about $600 million, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Regulators, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the UK Financial Conduct Authority, are in intense negotiations with lawyers for JPMorgan to reach a global settlement, the source said.

Prosecutors from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office were also involved in the talks, the source said. Their role in the talks was unclear.

Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for Bharara, declined to comment. The SEC and JPMorgan did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The global settlement talks are expected to address events surrounding the losses JPMorgan incurred when London-based traders in the bank's chief investment office amassed an oversized stake in an illiquid derivatives market, building positions so big they earned one trader, Bruno Iksil, the nickname "the London Whale."

JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon initially dismissed the London Whale losses as a "tempest in a teapot," but the remark came back to haunt him. The bank had to quickly unwind the trades, incurring a loss of more than $6 billion, and had to restate a quarterly earnings report.

An internal investigation concluded the traders in London had mismarked some of the prices of the positions they held to try to hide losses.

U.S. prosecutors charged Spaniard Javier Martin-Artajo and a junior colleague, Frenchman Julien Grout, with wire fraud and conspiracy to falsify books and records related to the trading losses, which were executed by Iksil.

(Reporting By Emily Flitter)

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