FBI's Mueller confirms JPMorgan preliminary probe

WASHINGTON Wed May 16, 2012 12:03pm EDT

A security guard patrols outside the JP Morgan Chase & Co annual shareholders meeting at the bank's back-office complex in Tampa, Florida, May 15, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Blanco

A security guard patrols outside the JP Morgan Chase & Co annual shareholders meeting at the bank's back-office complex in Tampa, Florida, May 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Blanco

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday confirmed that the agency has opened a "preliminary investigation" into JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), the nation's largest bank.

JPMorgan disclosed last week that it had suffered a multibillion-dollar trading loss due to a failed hedging strategy.

A person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday that the FBI's New York office has opened a preliminary probe into the loss, which has been estimated at more than $2 billion.

Mueller was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

When pressed by lawmakers about what legal violations JPMorgan may have committed, Mueller said: "All I can say is we've opened a preliminary investigation."

Mueller also said the timing of the investigation "depends on a number of factors." He did not elaborate.

(Reporting By Lily Kuo; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)