BRADENTON, Fla. — The Securities and Exchange Commission has approved a distribution plan allowing Jefferson County, Ala., to receive a $25 million disgorgement and civil penalty that JPMorgan paid into a “fair” fund to compensate harmed investors and issuers.
No one from the public commented on the SEC’s distribution plan, which was approved on Oct. 7.
The SEC appointed an administrator to calculate the final payment, which may include some interest earnings since the fine was levied last November, Teresa Verges, an SEC assistant regional director in Miami who assisted in the case, said Monday.
The money is part of an SEC settlement of securities fraud and other charges against JPMorgan involving nearly $3.2 billion of troubled variable- and auction-rate sewer warrants and related interest-rate swaps Jefferson County sold in 2002 and 2003.
The county has since defaulted on the warrants.
Without admitting or denying the SEC’s charges, the investment bank agreed to pay $50 million to Jefferson County, forfeit more than $647 million of swap-termination fees, and place $25 million into the fair fund.
The fair fund distribution plan giving Jefferson County the additional funds is based on a review by the SEC’s risk division of the underlying case against JPMorgan.
The review found that the firm, through two of its managing directors, made more than $8.2 million in undisclosed payments to local firms whose principals or employees were friends with some of the Jefferson County commissioners who voted on the bond deals in question.
“JPMorgan Securities passed on the costs of the improper payments to the county in the form of inflated fixed interest rates on the swaps,” the plan said. “These inflated fixed-interest rates directly harmed the county by increasing the swap payments it had to make over what it would have paid absent the improper payment scheme.”
The harm suffered by bondholders was largely the result of variable- and auction-rate warrant market failures and not the improper payment scheme, the plan concluded.
The county could not be reached for comment.