By Sarah White
MADRID Nov 15 A former JPMorgan Chase
executive accused of helping to hide trading losses in a $6.2
billion financial scandal at the bank rejected on Friday a U.S.
extradition request, which will now rest in the hands of courts
in his native Spain.
Javier Martin-Artajo, who oversaw another ex-JPMorgan trader
nicknamed the "London Whale" for his large bets on derivatives
markets, was indicted by a U.S. grand jury in September over his
role in the losses while he worked for the bank in London.
After handing himself in to Spanish police at the end of
August, Martin-Artajo on Friday told Spain's High Court he was
opposed to extradition, a court source said, though judges can
still decide to send him to face charges.
"He said that in any case the alleged events took place in
the United Kingdom, and not in the United States," the court
Martin-Artajo, wearing an open-necked shirt and dark suit
and who appeared relaxed after the hearing, waving to media,
also asked the judge to request more information from the United
States, the court source said.
His legal team, law firm Cortes Abogados in Madrid and Lista
Cannon from Norton Rose Fulbright in London, did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
The scandal knocked the reputation of America's biggest bank
and has so far cost JPMorgan $920 million in penalties from U.S.
and British regulators. It still faces criminal investigations,
and last year's losses also hurt the standing of JPMorgan Chief
Executive Jamie Dimon, who once dismissed the debacle as a
"tempest in a teapot".
Martin-Artajo is the most senior figure charged over
JPMorgan's trading losses.
Along with a junior colleague, Frenchman Julien Grout, he
has been accused of hiding hundreds of millions of dollars of
losses within JPMorgan's chief investment office, by marking
positions in a credit derivatives portfolio at inflated prices.
Bruno Iksil, the "Whale" he supervised and who executed the
trades at the heart of the losses, has not been charged with any
wrongdoing and is cooperating with prosecutors.
A home and relatives in Spain helped Martin-Artajo avoid
jail time after his arrest, as it prompted the judge to decide
he was not a flight risk and grant him a conditional release.
Martin-Artajo, whose great-uncle was former Spanish leader
Francisco Franco's foreign minister after the Second World War,
handed himself in after police approached his family.
He also has a home in London and a cottage in an exclusive
While Spain, according to its extradition treaty with the
United States, is not obliged to hand over its citizens,
extradition lawyers believe there is a chance Martin-Artajo
could be sent there, as the alleged offences are also punishable
A judge in Spain's High Court must now decide whether to
request the extra information from the United States or not.
After this, the case could be elevated to another panel of
judges who will examine the extradition request.