Ed. note: This is a weekly column by Elie Mystal, Managing Editor of Above the Law Redline, wrapping up the week that was in law and finance. Elie is not a practicing attorney, and anything he says that you listen to can and will be used against you.
So we’re all having fun today with J.P. Morgan, lawyers at Mayer Brown and Simpson Thacher, and their collective $1.5 billion error. The Second Circuit ruled that creditors to the old General Motors may be entitled to $1.5 billion based on a legal mistake in old JPM loan documents.
It might seem weird to use this story as an example in favor of gigantic legal fees, but as you look at how this error happened, you’ll see my point.
JPM loaned GM money as part of a $300 million synthetic loan. Unrelated to that, JPM also financed part of $1.5 billion loan to GM. When GM paid off the first loan, it needed to release JPM’s interest in GM property used to secure the $300 million.
I’m bored already. Evidently, so were lawyers at Mayer Brown. A senior partner delegated part of the task to an associate, who delegated some of the research to a paralegal. The paralegal was unfamiliar with the transaction, probably because he was a paralegal and people spend more time housebreaking their dogs than they spend explaining to a paralegal why they are being asked to do any particular task. The paralegal put in the wrong term because, whatever, he made a mistake researching something no lawyer knows off the top of his head.
From there, the associate copied the mistake into the documents sent to the senior partner without checking the paralegal’s research. The partner send the docs to JPM’s outside counsel without checking the associate’s research. Outside counsel Simpston Thacher didn’t double check or catch the error. Nobody at Mayer Brown, Simpson Thacher, or in-house at GM or JPM caught the mistake. Richard Gere shoved a gerbil up his ass. I know because I read it somewhere. Read more »
JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s parts are probably worth more to investors than the whole after regulators proposed tougher rules penalizing firms for size and complexity, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. JPMorgan could unlock value by splitting its four main businesses or dividing into consumer and institutional companies, Goldman Sachs analysts led by Richard Ramsden wrote today in a research note. Units of New York-based JPMorgan trade at a discount of 20 percent or more to stand-alone peers, they wrote. [Bloomberg]
Government auditors are investigating exclusive contracts held by Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to provide financial services inside federal prisons…Bank of America has been paid at least $76.3 million by Treasury to manage inmates’ accounts, money transfers, email service and other technology inside the 121 facilities managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The contract has been amended 22 times since it was awarded without competitive bidding in 2000. The accounts hold the money inmates earn from prison jobs paying as little as 12 cents an hour and supplemental funds sent by family and friends. Inmates use the money for clothing, phone calls, food and other expenses. Treasury says the payments to Bank of America were reimbursed by the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Prisons’ parent agency. JPMorgan issues debit cards to inmates when they are released that contain the balance remaining in their prison accounts. JPMorgan’s original contract was awarded in 1998 and amended at least 14 times. It was re-upped in 2008 and amended at least four times since then. [Center For Public Integrity]
JP Morgan Chase’s third-quarter results were published more than three hours ahead of schedule because of a mistake by Shareholder.com, the investor-communications company owned by Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. “The root cause was a human error internally at Shareholder.com,” Ryan Wells, a Nasdaq spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. Shareholder.com provides companies with Internet services including website maintenance for investor relations. JPMorgan’s earnings press release and supplement appeared online at about 3:30 a.m. in New York. The bank had set 7 a.m. for release of the market-sensitive data. [Bloomberg]
Back in November, JP Morgan announced that it would be offering up Vice Chairman Jimmy “Get Tom Brady On The Phone” Lee for questioning by the people of Twitter. The pre-show did not go well and the whole thing had to be canceled, in part because it somehow wasn’t anticipated that there might be lingering questions about the billions the firm had lost/was fined/was about to be fined. Today, the bank has demonstrated that it took its remedial interenet classes seriously, and redeemed itself with this: Read more »