The jury has reached its verdict: On the count of contributing to JPMorgan Chase's (NYSE:JPM) $6.2 billion loss in the case of the London Whale, CEO Jamie Dimon is found guilty, and is hereby ordered to surrender $10 million worth of his 2012 compensation. Ouch.
Alas, poor Drew, I knew her well
So ruled the bank's board of directors in response to two internal investigations, one conducted by the Review Committee of the Board of Directors and the other by the Management Task Force.
Blame for the botched trade and its consequences is actually spread quite liberally -- including to former CIO Ina Drew and former CFO Doug Braunstein. Their gooses have long been cooked, and we know exactly what became of them. But Dimon is specifically called out in the MTF report for not having "better tested his reliance on what he was told" from his subordinates.
It goes on to say that "more should have been done regarding the risks, risk controls and personnel associated with CIO's activities, and Mr. Dimon bears some responsibility for that." However, the report concludes on a more cheerful note for the silver-haired CEO: "Importantly, once Mr. Dimon became aware of the seriousness of the issues presented by CIO, he responded forcefully by directing a thorough review and an internal program of remediation."
A good CEO is hard to find
According to Dimon -- and happily for the sake of both shareholders and Dimon's no-doubt ulcer-ridden stomach -- the Tale of the London Whale may be coming to an end. "We are getting near the end of it," Dimon said in today's earnings conference call. According to The New York Times, the initially outsized -- but now presumably down-to-size -- derivatives position is still being unwound.
Dimon also added, unsurprisingly to me, that he "respects [the board's] decision." Once the magnitude of what was happening became evident last year, no one was harder on top management, the bank, and Jamie Dimon than Dimon himself. He was hard to miss in the press, and his mea culpa was intense and uncompromising. $10 million dollars hurts, but Dimon learned his lesson long before this.
When it first became clear what a grossly expensive botch job the bank's $100 billion derivatives bet was turning into, there were calls for Dimon's dismissal or resignation. But going on one year out, I believe investors are lucky to have the talk-the-talk, walk-the-walk, risk-obsessed Dimon still around. A good man my be hard to find, but finding a good CEO is even harder.