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JPMorgan Chase Execs Doubted Madoff Before the Fall

It appears that some higher-ups at JPMorgan Chase were on to fraudster Bernie Madoff nearly two years before the catastrophic implosion of his Ponzi scheme, but said execs didn’t take this knowledge as reason enough to stop doing business with him. As The New York Times reported, this information emerged Thursday in connection with a lawsuit against the banking giant. –KA

The New York Times:

On June 15, 2007, an obviously high-level risk management officer for Chase’s investment bank sent a lunchtime e-mail to colleagues to report that another bank executive “just told me that there is a well-known cloud over the head of Madoff and that his returns are speculated to be part of a Ponzi scheme.”

Even before that, a top private banking executive had been consistently steering clients away from investments linked to Mr. Madoff because his “Oz-like signals” were “too difficult to ignore.” And the first Chase risk analyst to look at a Madoff feeder fund, in February 2006, reported to his superiors that its returns did not make sense because it did far better than the securities that were supposedly in its portfolio.

Despite those suspicions and many more, the bank allowed Mr. Madoff to move billions of dollars of investors’ cash in and out of his Chase bank accounts right up until the day of his arrest in December 2008 — although by then, the bank had withdrawn all but $35 million of the $276 million it had invested in Madoff-linked hedge funds , according to the litigation.

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