Better Markets sues Justice Department over JPMorgan settlement

Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:02pm EST
 
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By Sarah N. Lynch and Aruna Viswanatha

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The non-profit group Better Markets filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department on Monday to block what it called an "unlawful" $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co over bad mortgage loans sold to investors before the financial crisis.

The record settlement with the bank, which was reached in November, does not release JPMorgan from potential criminal liability over the mortgages it packaged into bonds.

But Better Markets said it was still appalled that the settlement gave the bank "blanket civil immunity" for its conduct without sufficient judicial review.

"The Wall Street bailouts were bad enough, but now taxpayers are being forced to accept a secretive backroom deal that may well have been another sweetheart deal," said Dennis Kelleher, the chief executive of Better Markets.

"The Justice Department cannot act as prosecutor, jury and judge and extract $13 billion in exchange for blanket civil immunity to the largest, richest, most politically connected bank on Wall Street."

Better Markets was founded in 2010 to advocate for tough Wall Street reforms.

The lawsuit, which names both the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder, was filed in federal court in Washington.

Better Markets is seeking to have the court prevent the Justice Department from enforcing the settlement until a judge reviews it.   Continued...

 
A man walks past JP Morgan Chase's international headquarters on Park Avenue in New York in this July 13, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Andrew Burton/files