Federal regulators have filed their first action related to the momentous, crisis-sparking collapse of Lehman Brothers, but it won't amount to much. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today filed a civil case against JPMorgan Chase, accusing it of overextending credit to Lehman, the New York Times reports. But JPMorgan settled the complaint without admitting wrongdoing, and will pay a fine of just $20 million—relative chump change for an outfit of JPMorgan's size. “The firm cooperated with the investigation and is pleased to have resolved this matter with the CFTC," said JPMorgan in a statement.
Regulators say JPMorgan counted customer money when determining how much money it could lend Lehman, which is against the law. Moreover, the Times notes that the customer funds were held in a JPMorgan account, so it should have known that it wasn't Lehman's money. The bank is also accused of withholding other customer funds from authorities. JPMorgan played a key role in Lehman's collapse by demanding more than $8 billion in collateral a week earlier, something Lehman's estate has filed a lawsuit over.