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Investors File Lawsuit Against JP Morgan for Complicity on Madoff Ponzi Scheme


Seattle, WA: Two former Bernard L. Madoff investors have filed a proposed consumer fraud class-action lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase & Co, claiming the banking giant was complicit in aiding Madoff in orchestrating the Ponzi scheme that robbed investors of more than $65 billion.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, comes after a similar suit filed by the trustee appointed to represent Maddoff's victims was dismissed. The court ruled that the case filed by Irving Picard lacked standing, holding those claims belonged exclusively by the victims of Madoff's fraud.

Among the allegations leveled in the complaint, investors charge that JP Morgan operated as Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC's (BLMIS) primary banker for more than 20 years, and were faced with many indications that the fund was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.

The lawsuit details that since 1986, all the money BLMIS collected from unwitting investors passed through JP Morgan in an account known as the 703 Account, where BLMIS co-mingled funds from investors.

The lawsuit contends that JP Morgan should have known that BLMIS's activities were grossly inconsistent with those of an investment firm through a number of signs of impropriety.

JP Morgan, for example, was required to review a filing submitted by BLMIS to the SEC known as the Financial and Operational Combined Uniform Single Reports or FOCUS. That report, the lawsuit states, contained glaring irregularities that JP Morgan should have reported to the SEC, including factual omissions and errors, such as failing to report any commission revenue.

Beginning in 2006 JP Morgan sold structured investment products related to BLMIS feeder funds to its clients, profiting on those transactions as well. In the course of structuring those products, JP Morgan performed due-diligence on BLMIS and became suspicious that the BLMIS was a fraud but did not report its findings, the suit alleges, but did redeem $145 million from BLMIS and $276 million from BLMIS feeder funds in 2008.

The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Stephen and Leyla Hill, investors who incurred losses in BLMIS. It claims JP Morgan had knowing participation in a breach of trust, aided and abetted fraud, aided and abetted a breach of fiduciary duty, aided and abetted conversion and received unjust enrichment. The suit seeks damages for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit notes that at least one other banking institution closed BLMIS accounts after the Madoff staff could not supply satisfactory explanation for suspicious account activity.

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Published on Nov-8-11

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