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JPMorgan's metals desk was 'criminal enterprise,' Justice Department says
Blythe Masters, here's a list of countries without extradition treaties with the United States:
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By Tom Schoenberg and David Voreacos
Monday, September 16, 2019
U.S. prosecutors took an unusually aggressive turn in their investigation of price fixing at JPMorgan Chase & Co., describing its precious metals trading desk as a criminal enterprise operating inside the bank for nearly a decade.
The prosecutors charged the head of JPMorgan's global precious metals trading operation and two others on Monday, accusing them of "conspiracy to conduct the affairs of an enterprise involved in interstate or foreign commerce through a pattern of racketeering activity."
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That's a reference to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a law often used against organized crime rings. The U.S. has rarely invoked RICO law in big bank cases. Its use suggests that JPMorgan may face deeper legal jeopardy, going beyond the several individuals who have already been prosecuted.
Former prosecutors agreed the move was bold, with at least one questioning whether the Justice Department was overreaching. Others said the use of RICO was merited given the complexity and duration of the manipulation, echoing the U.S. official who announced the charges Monday morning.
"Based on the fact that it was conduct that was widespread on the desk, it was engaged in in thousands of episodes over an eight-year period -- that is precisely the kind of conduct that the RICO statute is meant to punish," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski told journalists.
"We're going to follow the facts wherever they lead, whether it's across desks here or at any other bank or upwards into the financial institution," he added.
Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, said the RICO law has been invoked in cases involving small trading operations and in corporate-conduct cases. But he and several former prosecutors said they couldn't recall another use of the law to prosecute traders at a big bank. ...
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