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J.P. Morgan Chief Expresses Regret for Firm's Role in Misdeeds

He points to a lack of impartial advice and questionable practices in stock offerings as two examples of failures.

May 21, 2003

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive William Harrison said Tuesday that he regrets the events that created Wall Street's many scandals and took responsibility for his firm's role in the misdeeds.

Alluding to the $1.4-billion global settlement between 10 Wall Street banks and U.S. regulators, Harrison said at the bank's annual meeting with shareholders that Wall Street had at times formed too high an opinion of itself at the expense of the individual investor.

"Over the past couple of years, we have seen far more than the usual number of serious accidents at the intersection of Wall Street and Main. And our financial institutions, including J.P. Morgan Chase, must take their share of responsibility for that," Harrison said in his first public expression of regret.

Harrison joins a bevy of bank executives who have expressed different degrees of contrition for what regulators alleged was cheating small investors.

After citing the recent number of corporate bankruptcies, accounting scandals and wrongdoing by executives, Harrison said financial institutions have been found wanting as well.

He pointed to a lack of impartial investment advice and questionable practices surrounding stock offerings as two examples of failures on the part of banks.

"We cannot undo what has been done, but we can express genuine regret and learn from the past," Harrison said.

Closer to home, Harrison listed three areas J.P. Morgan failed its own investors: bad loans, losses at J.P. Morgan Partners and problems relating to Enron Corp.

From Reuters

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