White-Collar Crime

Former investment adviser charged with defrauding JP Morgan Chase clients of $20M

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A longtime former investment adviser for wealthy clients of J.P. Morgan Chase was arrested Thursday and is facing federal charges after allegedly defrauding them of $20 million over a three-year period.`

Michael Oppenheim, 48, allegedly lost most of the money almost immediately through what the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission described in a related civil lawsuit as “highly unprofitable options trading,” reports Reuters. The suit seeks disgorgement of any remaining assets.

He also is accused of using client funds to pay personal expenses after persuading clients to let him withdraw money from their accounts for low-risk municipal bond investments. Oppenheim lives in New Jersey and is being prosecuted in New York.

“We are angry that this person violated the trust our clients place in us,” the bank said in a written statement provided to Reuters.

Oppenheim reportedly was employed by Chase from 2002 until about a month ago and was a vice president and private adviser working with about 500 bank clients. Chase said it alerted authorities to the claimed fraud and has been cooperating with investigators.

Oppenheim and his lawyer did not respond to messages from the news agency seeking comment.

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