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Criminals and Crypto? Let’s Talk JPMorgan’s $39B Fine and Their Very Own Token!

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Criticized for Claiming Bitcoin’s Only Use Case is Crime

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is facing backlash from cryptocurrency enthusiasts after his recent comments before the United States Banking Committee. On December 5, Dimon vocalized his belief that the only true use case for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is to facilitate criminal activity. He detailed, “The only true use case for it is criminals, drug traffickers, money laundering, tax avoidance.”

Perhaps the most inflammatory declaration made by Dimon was, “If I were the government, I’d close it down.” Responses to his statements quickly drew attention to the contradiction evident in Dimon’s vociferously negative stance towards cryptocurrency.

Dimon’s Statements Deemed Hypocritical

Outspoken critics of Dimon’s comments took to social media to highlight what they view as hypocrisy—given the numerous violations and penalties JPMorgan has faced since 2000. According to Good Jobs First’s violation tracker, JPMorgan has been penalized $39.3 billion across 272 violations since the turn of the century. Notably, about $38 billion of these penalties occurred under Dimon’s leadership, having stepped into the role of CEO in 2005.

On December 6, Crypto lawyer John Deaton responded, “Talk about being a fucking hypocrite!” He added, “Jamie Dimon is in no position to criticize Bitcoin with this sort of track record.”

JPMorgan’s Troublesome Past

The wide variety of violations Daton may be referring to includes a $75 million settlement reached with the U.S. Virgin Islands in September over allegations that JPMorgan enabled and financially gained from Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation between 2002 and 2005.

In October 2013, the bank paid the largest fine in its corporate history at $13 billion for fraudulent activities related to “toxic” mortgage deals. Additionally, numerous JPMorgan traders were investigated for manipulating various metals futures markets between 2008 and 2016. The investigation concluded in September 2020 with JPMorgan agreeing to pay nearly $1 billion in fines.

In what was considered the largest cocaine bust in U.S. history, 20 tons or 18,140 kilograms of cocaine, worth $1.3 billion, were seized in July 2019 on a ship reportedly owned by a fund run by JPMorgan.

JPMorgan’s Mixed Signals on Cryptocurrency

Despite Dimon’s opposition to digital assets, JPMorgan has recently introduced its own crypto token — the JPM Coin — on a private version of the Ethereum blockchain for its institutional client base. 

The bank also launched a blockchain-based tokenization platform in October 2021, securing BlackRock as one of its clients. Earlier this year, the bank contributed to a $65 million funding round for Ethereum infrastructure firm Consensys.

Dimon appears to distinguish between cryptocurrencies with a centralized force behind them and decentralized ones. In the past, he has referred to decentralized currencies as ponzi schemes.

Dimon’s Statements Face Fact Check

Dimon’s comments prompted a Community Notes fact check, which concluded that less than 1% of cryptocurrency transactions are illicit. This contradicts his claim that the primary use case for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is facilitating criminal activities.

As the decentralized nature of these systems continues to evolve, critics argue that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. government to implement an effective ban on Bitcoin or the cryptocurrency sector.

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