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JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Manhattan headquarters.

JPMorgan Chase is apparently moving towards settling with the Securities and Exchange Commission over huge losses racked up by one of its traders known as the "London Whale." JPMorgan is reportedly ready to admit wrongdoing over the ill-fated trades.

Bruno Iksil, a former derivatives trader, became known as the London Whale because of the scale of the bets he and his team were making, which cost JPMorgan Chase more than $6 billion. Besides the massive sum of money lost, the case is unusual because it has elicited a rare admission of wrongdoing from a bank.

"They usually neither admit nor deny culpability -- they pay up and keep schtum," says Marketplace's Stephen Beard. "But that's a bit difficult in this case, since the boss, Jamie Diamon, has already fessed up earlier in the summer. He said this: 'Bad strategy, badly vetted, badly monitored, badly controlled, embarrassing, terrible -- sorry.'"

JPMorgan's decision to admit culpability might also have been influenced by Mary Jo White, the new head of the SEC, who has signaled that she will be taking a tougher line and seek public admissions of wrongdoing when the conduct is egregious.

As for the Whale himself, Iksil will not be fined or penalized for the time being. The FBI is continuing to investigate whether any criminal laws were broken.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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