The sage of Wall Street journeyed to Washington Thursday, but Jamie Dimon’s visit was unlike any the JPMorgan Chase chief has made before.
Dimon sought a meeting with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in an urgent bid to dispose of multiple government investigations into the bank’s conduct leading up to the financial crisis — and avoid criminal charges. The deal Dimon discussed with Holder would involve paying the government at least $11 billion, the biggest settlement a single company has ever undertaken, according to several people familiar with the negotiations.
It would also potentially pave the way for a series of other giant banks to reckon with Washington for their roles in the near collapse of the financial system five years ago. While it would be a historic amount, the fine would still represent a sliver of the damage wrought by the bank for selling mortgage securities that it allegedly knew were worthless.
Dimon, 57, the most prominent of all the Wall Street chieftains, was once mentioned as a possible candidate for Treasury secretary, but in the past year he has faced a series of embarrassing setbacks. In addition to grappling with various government probes, Dimon recently survived a challenge to his leadership after acknowledging a staggering $6.2 billion loss by a JPMorgan trader known as the “London Whale.”