JP Morgan reaches $1bn settlement with Enron

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JP Morgan Chase said yesterday it had reached an agreement worth $1bn (£550m) to settle charges that it helped the collapsed energy giant Enron orchestrate one of the most audacious and complex frauds in America's corporate history.

The settlement includes a $350m payment by JP Morgan to the estate of the company and an undertaking to waive its own claims that Enron owes it about $660m from loans the company took out with the investment bank and failed to repay.

The total value of the settlement is by far the largest by one of Wall Street's major firms in the continuing fallout from Enron's collapse in December 2001.

The group of directors appointed to manage Enron's estate has launched "mega-claim" lawsuits against 10 banks, alleging they aided and abetted its collapse, causing billions of dollars of losses for investors and for employees who had filled their pension plans with Enron shares.

So far, Royal Bank of Scotland, which did business with Enron, has settled its case, agreeing to pay $42m. On 5 August, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce agreed to pay $250m. The banks yet to settle include Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse First Boston and Deutsche Bank.

"Today's settlement is a tremendous financial outcome for the Enron estate," Stephen Cooper, Enron's interim chief executive and chief restructuring officer, said in a statement. "We are encouraged by the momentum of the recent mega-claim settlements and look forward to working with the remaining financial institutions to get these issues behind us."

Mr Cooper and his team are using the money they have won in settlements to repay creditors, including pension funds.

JP Morgan has reserved for the settlement and does not expect it to have a material adverse impact on earnings. Itschairman and chief executive, William Harrison, said: "We have put behind us another significant piece of our Enron exposure."

Enron emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings late last year as a private entity and is liquidating its remaining assets to pay its debts.