Chase Bank: Bringing Hypocrisy To A City Near You

By Terry Smiljanich

September 17, 2009

“Let’s Start Banking Better, Tampa” says Chase Bank in its newest ad
campaign. Your city probably has similar signs. “Let’s?” You mean Chase
wants “us” to do a better job of banking? Give us a break, Chase. That
takes a lot of nerve coming from you, of all banks!

You remember JP Morgan/Chase. It’s the mega-bank (second largest in the
country) that took over Bear Stearns as a favor to the Treasury
Department last year, and then received $25 billion in TARP taxpayer
dollars to help it out of its crisis.

Then, as part of the “Making Home Affordable” program it was supposed
to help homeowners renegotiate their troubled mortgages and keep them
out of bankruptcy. Taxpayers helped Chase out, and it would help us out
in return. Well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. Using Taxpayer Money for Chase’s Gain

What’s the first thing Chase did with its $25 billion largesse? Help
homeowners? Become better bankers? Not quite. It turned around and used
this taxpayer money to buy up new banks, so it could get even bigger.
The taxpayers and homeowners could wait – Chase had greedy plans of its
own.

When the “Making Home Affordable” program got started, Chase was one of
the big banks that promised to go on a renegotiation spree with
troubled homeowners, so that they could stay in their homes and avoid
foreclosure. How’s that working out?

Not so good. Like other banks CWN has reported on, Chase customers
trying to renegotiate their loans ran into the usual brush-offs –
dropped calls, lost paperwork, etc. At latest report, only 20% of
eligible Chase homeowners had successfully renegotiated their loans. Is
that what Chase means by “banking better”?

When asked where responsibility lies for the mortgage mess, CEO Jamie
Dimon offered this: “You’re supposed to meet your obligations, not run
from them.” It’s all our fault, right?

Chase Avoids CEO Compensation Restrictions

Chase had a problem, though. Because of the TARP loan, the
government took some preferred stock in Chase and so had a say in how
Chase was run and how much it paid its top executives. As a result, Chase CEO Dimon had to worry that his multi-million
compensation package was at risk. After all, he brought home $27.8
million in compensation in 2007, and the top five executives at Chase
made a grand total of $95 million that year.

So, Chase bought back the preferred stock from the government later
this year. Now the top floor executives can vote themselves a nice
compensation package without the government looking over their
shoulders.

Meanwhile, Chase continues to shelter its money from US taxpayers by
maintaining 158 (!!) subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, a notorious
tax shelter. And as for its loyal long time credit card holders, Chase more than
doubled the minimum monthly payback requirements on its cards. “Let’s bank better?” No, Chase. You’ve got a lot of room for improvement before you go telling us to do a better job!

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