TOKYO — JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) faces a new regulatory headache, as Japan's securities watchdog is probing the company for possibly leaking insider information, according to a person familiar with the matter.
JPMorgan was a lead underwriter for Nippon Sheet Glass Co. in 2010 when the Japanese glass maker issued new shares, and the company's stock dropped sharply in the days leading up the announcement.
Japan's Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission Tuesday announced it was seeking to fine a Japanese asset management company for short-selling illegally obtained information in advance of the offering from an underwriter.
The SESC did not name the underwriter under suspicion. But JPMorgan was just one of two underwriters and the other, Daiwa Capital Market issued a public statement saying it had no involvement in the case.
JPMorgan's Japan unit issued a statement saying that it was cooperating with investigators. A person familiar with the probe added that a JPMorgan sales trader was the suspected source of the leak.
In the statement, JPMorgan Securities Japan Co. said that, "to date in connection with this matter," the company "has not received any indication from authorities that suggest JPMorgan's involvement either by the company as a whole, or by any department as a whole."
News of the probe comes less than a month after JPMorgan Chase disclosed more than $2 billion in trading losses, triggering a firestorm of criticism in Washington and undermining a campaign by the financial industry to water down tough new regulations enacted in the wake of the financial crisis.
The Japanese probe of JPMorgan comes amid a widening probe of allegations of insider trading in Japan, where a number of market-moving share offerings appear to have been leaked before formal announcement.
The Nippon Sheet Glass case is one of at least three such cases under investigation. In addition to JPMorgan, Japanese authorities are also probing Japan's largest brokerage, Nomura Securities Co.