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JPMorgan Chase Made Nearly a Billion Dollars from Madoff

Thursday, 3 Mar 2011 | 9:47 AM ET
cnbc.com

A new study of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme concludes that JPMorgan Chase made over $900 million in pretax profits from the Madoff scam.

The academic paper by Dr. Linus Wilson, a finance professor at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, makes use of newly released data and different methods of calculation than previous studies.

Wilson's paper looks at total Madoff- linked account balances at JPMorgan Chase from 1986 to 2008, a longer period than earlier studies, which may have underestimated JPMorgan's profits.

The total figure Wilson arrives at is $907 million.

That figure assumes JPMorgan's reinvestment of Madoff client money, and the generation of a similar rate to that of other funds invested by the bank during a similar time period.

But even without any reinvestment at all, Wilson finds that JPMorgan's pre-tax profits from Madoff money would have amounted to an estimated $398 million.

In addition to the magnitude of their alleged gains, Wilson reaches another conclusion that is likely to give JPMorgan agita.

Namely, he concludes based on prior academic research, that enough 'red flags' existed to make a reasonable observer suspicious—which presumably includes JPMorgan Chase.

Wilson lists two facts as being particularly problematic. First, that Madoff's custody over his client accounts resulted in no third party verification of trades (which, as it turns out, Madoff seems to have never made). And second, the very size and regularity of Madoff's returns should have raised suspicion in itself.

Wilson's complete journal article—provocatively titled 'Madoff’s Dirty Money'—can be found here.

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