JPMorgan needs $4.5 billion to fight 10,000 legal actions
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) may need a legal cushion of $4.5 billion in excess of current levels to handle litigation and regulatory actions against the banking giant, the firm said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. At Dec. 31, some 10,000 legal actions are pending against the bank, JPMorgan said in a filing this week. "The litigations range from individual actions involving a single plaintiff to class-action lawsuits with potentially millions of class members," according to the filing. "With some litigants still unknown and cases subject to change, the amount JPMorgan spends in excess of its 2010 legal budget could range from zero to $4.5 billion." This week, JPMorgan, Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and Citigroup (C) warned investors in securities filings that each faces an onslaught of consumer and investor lawsuits, not to mention regulatory actions. Many of the cases relate to mortgage-backed securities and the banks' handling of foreclosures. JPMorgan noted some positive news in its recent 10-K filing, asserting that its provisions for credit losses fell by $15.4 billion. The drops are attributed to reductions in allowances for credit losses on mortgages and credit cards thanks to improved delinquency rates among borrowers in those segments. At the same time, the bank said the decline in these provisions was offset by increased allowance for credit losses from the Washington Mutual credit-impaired loans portfolio JPMorgan acquired. The bank said the increase in credit losses to the WaMu segment is built on the expectation of future credit losses. JPMorgan acquired Washington Mutual and its mortgage loan portfolio during the financial crisis in September 2008. Write to Kerri Panchuk.