NEW YORK (AP) — The London whale isn't the only thing weighing on JPMorgan Chase these days.
In fact, the nation's largest bank has a long list of legal challenges beyond the $6 billion trading loss with the memorable nickname. It faces a swirl of investigations and lawsuits, among them accusations that it is too quick to sue credit card customers over late payments and that it should have caught on to Bernie Madoff's giant Ponzi scheme.
The bank has only recently cleared away other legal problems, including settling regulators' accusations last month that it manipulated energy prices.
The legal entanglements are an unwelcome development for a bank usually lauded for stellar risk management and considered the darling of Washington until as recently as last year, when the trading loss came to light. After emerging from the financial crisis better off than most of its peers, JPMorgan was the only big bank with a CEO who had the street cred and guts to both challenge President Barack Obama and be his confidante.
The shift in JPMorgan's reputation is a reminder that banks, supposedly chastened by the financial crisis, are still being haunted by it. Its struggles are also a microcosm of the government's tightening influence on the industry, and a reminder of how quickly fortunes can change.
Kathleen Day, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who lectures on the history of financial crises, questions whether the bank's board of directors is doing its job to rein in managers from excessive risk.
"The allegations are serious and unusual," Day says, "and the list just seems to go on and on."
To be fair, investors haven't seemed overly concerned so far. Even with the 2012 trading loss, the bank pulled in its biggest annual profit ever — $20 billion. The stock, though it fell when the loss was announced in May 2012, is up by a third from its pre-whale price. It closed Monday at $54.09.
CEO Jamie Dimon has said the bank is undergoing "extensive changes" to its business practices, and that regulatory compliance is its top priority. "Let me be perfectly clear: These problems were our fault, and it is our job to fix them," Dimon wrote in this year's annual letter to shareholders. "In fact, I feel terrible that we let our regulators down."
Some observers think JPMorgan is being unfairly targeted. They say that regulators — criticized for being too lax before the financial crisis — are now overcompensating by being too punitive.
"It is jihad against the largest U.S. banks," says Tom Brown, founder of the investment management firm Second Curve Capital and often a critic of the industry.
Among the legal problems JPMorgan is facing or has recently settled:
—The London whale: The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into last year's $6 billion trading loss, which is nicknamed after the location of the trader who allegedly engineered it and the size of the bets he made.
Authorities are focusing on whether the bank had adequate control over its trading operations, and also whether it tried to cover up or downplay the size of the loss.
Federal prosecutors are reportedly preparing to arrest two employees who were involved. JPMorgan says it has also received requests for information related to "inquiries and investigations" by Congress, U.S. banking regulators, the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority and others. JPMorgan says it is cooperating.