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UK Watchdog Fines Former JP Morgan International CIO Over "London Whale" Saga

Tom Burroughes

9 February 2016

The UK financial regulator has slapped a £792,900 ($1.14 million) fine on the former head of JP Morgan’s chief investment office, international, for failing to be open and co-operate with the watchdog in its probe of a saga in which the US-listed bank suffered a $6.2 billion loss in 2012.

The Financial Conduct Authority fined Achilles Macris. In the role Macris was responsible for a number of portfolios, including the Synthetic Credit Portfolio, at the time of what became known as the “London Whale” trades. 

JP Morgan declined to comment to this publication.

In December last year, settled a lawsuit stemming from the scandal and agreed to pay $150 million to investors claiming they had been misled by statements that urged them not to worry about the losses created by Bruno Iksil, who was granted the moniker “London Whale”. 
Explaining its fine of Macris, the FCA said that Macris was the main contact with the FCA’s predecessor, the Financial Services Authority, in relation to CIO International and as an approved person he was required to deal with the authority in an open and cooperative way. Between 28 March 2012 and 29 April 2012 Macris did not inform the authority about concerns with the Synthetic Credit Portfolio. The FCA said Macris fell short of the conduct expected of a person in such a role.

The Synthetic Credit Portfolio began to suffer significant losses from the beginning of 2012. On 23 March 2012 the front office was instructed that no further trades should be executed on the portfolio until discussions had taken place. Macris subsequently asked that daily risk reports for the Synthetic Credit Portfolio be produced and in the following days took other measures, such as requesting assistance from outside CIO and arranging daily progress meetings with CIO Risk and the front office. Despite these measures the Synthetic Credit Portfolio continued to suffer losses, the FCA said in its account of the case.

On 28 March 2012 Macris attended a supervision meeting with the FSA at which CIO International and the Synthetic Credit Portfolio were discussed. The authority was updated on both positive and negative developments relating to the portfolio, including that it had made a loss of $200 million, and that it had experienced rebalancing problems, but was told that it was now balanced and did not require additional trading.

“Mr Macris did not provide the Authority information about the full extent of the difficulties that the Synthetic Credit Portfolio was then facing or take steps to ensure that the Authority understood there were causes for concern with the portfolio,” the FCA continued.

The FCA said Macris took part in a telephone call with the FSA which was set up to try to correct any inaccurate impression that may have been given by the publication of articles about the “London Whale”. “By the time of the call Mr Macris was aware that the position of the Synthetic Credit Portfolio had worsened and its losses had increased. The call provided Mr Macris a further opportunity to provide information about concerns with the portfolio and the heightened response being adopted to address them. Mr Macris did not do so. Instead, Mr Macris allowed an inaccurate impression to be given that there had been no material changes since the supervision meeting and that there were not wider causes for concern with the Synthetic Credit Portfolio,” the FCA said.