Haraz N. Ghanbari, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told Congress on Wednesday that senior bank executives responsible for a $2 billion trading loss will probably have some of their pay taken back by the company.
"It's likely that there will be clawbacks," Dimon told the Senate Banking Committee.
The start of the hearing was delayed by demonstrators in the room who shouted about stopping foreclosures. Another demonstrator shouted, "Jamie Dimon's a crook." At least a dozen people were escorted from the hearing room.
Dimon appeared serene during the outbursts, which lasted several minutes. At another point before the questioning began, he gave a broad smile.
Dimon contended that the trading loss, disclosed May 10 in a surprise conference call with reporters and banking analysts, were meant to hedge risk to the company and to protect in case "things got really bad."
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the committee's senior Republican, said he wants to know what Dimon expected from the investment office and whether he gave its employees incentives to manage risks or maximize profits.
Dimon was expected to be asked what kinds of trades were made by the bank's London office, where the losses originated, and whether JPMorgan had adequate controls in place.
Dimon planned to say that JPMorgan has taken steps to keep it from happening again.
JPMorgan's trading loss has heightened concerns that the biggest banks still pose risks to the U.S. financial system, less than four years after the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.
According to Dimon's prepared testimony, JPMorgan adopted a strategy late last year to reduce risk, but it backfired in its investment operation by heightening risk instead.
Dimon also planned to say that the bank has named a new leader for the investment operation that was responsible for the losses, has established a risk committee and is investigating what went wrong.
A key regulator of JPMorgan, Thomas Curry, the U.S. comptroller of the currency, suggested last week that the bank lacked strong controls to contain risk in its investment operations.
And The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that some senior JPMorgan executives, including the chief financial officer and chief risk officer, were told about risky trading in London two years before the losses came to light.
Dimon himself knew of some of the trades and sometimes spoke with the traders involved, the Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
The banking committee's chairman, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., cited "an out-of-control trading strategy with little to no risk controls" at JPMorgan, according to portions of his opening statement for the hearing released Tuesday.
"So what went wrong?" Johnson was to ask.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing what JPMorgan told investors about its finances and the risks it took before the loss.
In April, in a conference call with analysts, Dimon had dismissed concerns about the bank's trading, calling them a "tempest in a teapot." Later, adopting a more conciliatory stance, he conceded that he'd been "dead wrong" to minimize those concerns.
Dimon has called the losses "a black mark" for the bank. He confessed to a "flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored" trading strategy that allowed the losses to occur.
Senators will want to know what Dimon knew at the time he dismissed the issue in April.
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