ILNews

Church accuses JPMorgan of mismanagement, self-dealing

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis has filed a federal lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase, alleging the bank's "intentional mismanagement" and "self-dealing" led to $13 million in losses in church trust accounts endowed in the 1970s by Eli Lilly Jr.

The church, which occupies the oldest structure on Monument Circle, said the bank from 2004 to 2013 invested its money in 177 different investment products, including "high-risk, high-cost, opaque, unsuitable and poorly performing investments."

Between 2004 and 2007, the value of church trusts managed by the bank ranged from $35.4 million to $39.2 million. By December 2013, after the stock market had shot higher, the trust's value had dropped to $31.6 million.

Meantime, the bank's fees increased 475 percent. The suit notes that the church's annual fee to JPMorgan rose from an average of $35,000 to $177,800. The church has paid more than $1 million in fees to the bank.

"At the very highest levels of JPMorgan, decisions were made to steer clients to JPMorgan products regardless of the damage which could result to beneficiaries such as Christ Church," the suit claims. "Most of the financial products found in the Christ Church Trusts' portfolio earned JPMorgan substantial revenues in disclosed and undisclosed fees."

A spokeswoman for JPMorgan said the bank does not comment on lawsuits.

At one point, the suit notes, as much as 85 percent of the church's portfolio was invested in "proprietary" JPMorgan investments including hedge funds and derivative investment products. In some cases, the church's money provided "seed" capital for new and unproven investment products.

When Eli Lilly Jr. died in 1977, he left 10 percent of his estate to the church, with management of three trusts divided among three local banks. None of the banks still exist; JPMorgan wound up managing two of the trusts after bank consolidation.

"At the time the will was written, banks were typically appointed as trustees to administer estates, collect and safeguard assets, and distribute testamentary bequests," the suit notes. "At the time, banks were prohibited from acting as broker-dealers and investment bankers, did not offer their own financial products other than conservative and transparent investments, and did not have a personal stake or interest in the specific investments."

All of the church's trusts are now managed by the Christ Church Cathedral Foundation, after JPMorgan resigned as trustee in December 2013. But the bank is still manager for some private-equity investments the bank won't be able to close out until 2023, said attorney Linda Pence, who's representing the church.

The church had a total endowment of $67.1 million as of December 2013.

The lawsuit recounts years of conflict between the church's investment committee and JPMorgan. For instance, in 2009, the investment committee asked the bank to reallocate funds into undervalued stocks, but the bank did the opposite, selling stocks to pile into bonds, the suit notes.

The bank also repeatedly pointed out it had full control over investments, as trustee, and refused to take any direction from the church's investment committee.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in Indianapolis.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

ADVERTISEMENT