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Friday, 15 April 2011

Who is Matt Zames?

Matt Zames is one of the contenders to take over from Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan. Why? Because he makes money for the bank. That's why. Or rather, the traders who work under him on the bank's OTC fixed income derivatives trading desk which has made money when the rest of the bank was going close to the wall. If your desk is the only one making serious money, you get to call a lot of the shots, and Zames, an ex-LTCM employee was promoted rapidly in the last 5 years to the executive committee.

Bully for him, but with power comes responsibility and Zames may come under a lot of scrutiny because of a court filing from the trustee charged with recovering money for Mr Madoff’s victims.

John Hogan, a senior risk officer at JPMorgan’s investment bank and a member of the company’s executive committee, voiced concerns about Mr Madoff’s firm to colleagues in 2007, according to a new version of the 114-page complaint. The allegation is part of a $6.4bn lawsuit filed against the bank by the trustee, Irving Picard. Mr Hogan is said to have learnt of Mr Madoff’s Ponzi scheme from Zames.

“For whatever it’s worth, I am sitting at lunch with Matt Zames who just told me that there is a well-known cloud over the head of Madoff and that his returns are speculated to be part of a Ponzi scheme,” Mr Hogan allegedly said on June 15 2007, nearly 18 months before Mr Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was revealed.

Of course Zames' concerns went no further. How much he really knew, how much he disclosed and how much he acted on his suspicions to his own benefit may have a significant bearing on his career.

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