JPMorgan Chase finds more than 500 workers got virus relief funds
More than 500 JPMorgan Chase employees got assistance from taxpayers aimed at helping businesses through the pandemic — and dozens of them shouldn't have, according to people with knowledge of the firm's internal investigation.
The discovery that so many people at the largest and most profitable U.S. bank had tapped the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program raised suspicions inside the company and set off a hasty probe, the full extent of which hasn't been previously reported. Bloomberg broke the news earlier this month that at least some staff had abused the program.
After noticing hundreds of employees had received government funds in their accounts, the bank began scrutinizing director-level employees and workers who received certain amounts, according to people with knowledge of the confidential review who spoke on condition they not be named. Of almost two dozen in that first group, the bank found five — none of them director-level employees — had improperly tapped the program, one of the people said.
Ultimately, the bank's look at hundreds of deposits found many were probably legitimate — providing funds, for example, to side businesses run on workers' own time. A JPMorgan spokeswoman declined to comment on its investigation.
The figures shed light on the scope of a probe that has spooked the banking industry, in which JPMorgan is known as a standard-bearer with more than a quarter million employees. While JPMorgan revealed its efforts in an all-staff memo, rival banks have remained silent on whether any employees improperly tapped the money.
The Small Business Administration has urged U.S. banks to look out for suspicious deposits from the EIDL program to their customers and even their own staff. While the program offers loans to businesses, much of the concern has focused on its advances of as much as $10,000 that don't have to be repaid. A Bloomberg Businessweek analysis of SBA data in August identified at least $1.3 billion in suspicious payments.
JPMorgan sent a memo to its roughly 256,000 employees on Sept. 8 in which senior leaders said they had seen "instances of customers misusing Paycheck Protection Program Loans, unemployment benefits and other government programs" and that some employees had fallen short on ethical standards, too.