J.P. Morgan to pay $18M to settle SEC charges for violating whistleblower protection rule

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today announced settled charges against J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS) for impeding hundreds of advisory clients and brokerage customers from reporting potential securities law violations to the SEC. JPMS agreed to pay an $18 million civil penalty to settle the charges.

According to the SEC’s order, from March 2020 through July 2023, JPMS regularly asked retail clients to sign confidential release agreements if they had been issued a credit or settlement from the firm of more than $1,000.

The agreements required the clients to keep confidential the settlement, all underlying facts relating to the settlement, and all information relating to the account at issue. In addition, even though the agreements permitted clients to respond to SEC inquiries, they did not permit clients to voluntarily contact the SEC.

The SEC’s order finds that JPMS violated Rule 21F-17(a) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, a whistleblower protection rule that prohibits taking any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the SEC staff about possible securities law violations. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, JPMS agreed to be censured, to cease and desist from violating the whistleblower protection rule, and to pay the $18 million civil penalty.