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Jamie Dimon may struggle to shake off Madoff stink

Feb 16 2011 Antony Currie, Reuters Breakingviews

JPMorgan may struggle to shake off the stink of its association with Bernie Madoff. The imprisoned fraudster for years used accounts at the bank led by Jamie Dimon to stash and distribute cash tied up in the scheme. That prompted Irving Picard, the trustee overseeing attempts to recoup money for Madoff's victims, to sue JPMorgan for $6.4bn, claiming the bank was "at the center" of the plot. Now even the Ponzi mastermind says banks "had to know" what he was up to. Unsurprisingly, JPMorgan is fighting the charges. Stephen Cutler, the bank's general counsel, told a gathering of institutional investors on Tuesday that Picard's accusations relied on 20/20 hindsight and took skeptical comments by employees out of context. That may be so -- and JPMorgan may be guilty of no more than failing to spot a fraud that bedeviled and ensnared many others including the Securities and Exchange Commission. But Picard's reclamation project has gathered momentum. The estate of long-time Madoff friend

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