| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Dec 12 A six-month electricity trading
ban imposed on JPMorgan Chase & Co. by federal energy
regulators is "not that big a deal," Chief Executive Jamie Dimon
said on Wednesday.
The ban, which will prevent the bank from selling
electricity at competitive market rates, is one of the most
serious punishments that can be levied by the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC), the top U.S. power market
"I'm not worried about it," Dimon said at The New York Times
Dealbook Conference in New York. He said the ban would not have
an economic impact on the bank.
The ban highlights the increasing scrutiny Wall Street banks
are receiving from FERC, which has stepped up its enforcement
after a 2005 law that gave it additional powers in the wake of
the Enron scandal.
Dimon said JPMorgan would continue to fight the ban, which
he said was wrongly imposed. "We think we're entitled to, when
they're wrong, to fight it, you know, legitimately. That's what
courts are for," he said.
But Dimon, who recently estimated the bank's annual
regulation tab at more than $1 billion, seemed resigned to
eventually losing the fight.
"My experience in life is that regulators always win
anyway," he said.
A spokeswoman for FERC declined comment, citing the agency's
policy of not discussing ongoing cases.
Besides JPMorgan, FERC has also charged Barclays Bank Plc
and Deutsche Bank AG with alleged power
market manipulation in the United States. It has proposed a
record $470 million fine for Barclays and is seeking $1.5
million from Deutsche Bank. Both banks are fighting the charges.
JPMorgan's punishment is unique in that it stems from a
dispute over the bank's refusal to hand over documents in a
market manipulation investigation, not a finding of
manipulation. When FERC last imposed a similar ban on a major
market player, the target was Enron Corp, the trading firm that
infamously manipulated the California power market in 2000 and
subsequently blew up in an accounting scandal.
FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff has denied the agency is
increasingly going after banks. "We're an equal opportunity
enforcer," he told reporters last week.
Dimon said, "Sometimes the penalties dwarf the crime - I
mean, not even close. I'm not that sure that's fair to my
The trading ban, announced Nov. 15, is scheduled to take
effect next April.