Sanford I. Weill

Splitting big banks: Why J.P. Morgan should go first

July 26, 2012: 11:57 AM ET

The bank's woes are only growing., As Sandy Weill recommends, the company should be split in two.

J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon

FORTUNE -- J.P. Morgan should split in two, as former Citigroup chair Sandy Weill has recommended for all big banks. In fact, it should go first. But before it does, the bank's board needs to address its own governance issues so the split goes well.

It has been another tumultuous couple of weeks for J.P. Morgan (JPM). Events continued to raise questions about the veracity of company statements and the propriety of its motives and actions. Last week, a FERC filing in an energy manipulation investigation provided a "detailed, email-by-email summary" to back up its assertions that "J.P. Morgan repeatedly and deliberately insisted that unprivileged emails were privileged."

Bringing the investigation into sharper focus, the Financial Times recently reported that Wall Street banks like J.P. Morgan are becoming more heavily involved in the oil trading business and supplying oil to refiners.

CEO Jamie Dimon would not answer questions about Libor manipulation during the bank's second quarter earnings call, but the Wall Street Journal has reported that its traders are now under investigation for conspiring to rig the rates.

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Last week, Senator Carl Levin along with commercial copper consumers spoke out in opposition to a J.P. Morgan and Blackrock (BLK) proposed copper exchange traded fund on worries it would raise copper prices.

While this just offers a flavor of recent concerns, it hardly represents the full story. New lawsuits and investigations are underway.

On July 13, two bank analysts suggested the bank was too big to manage. So will J.P. Morgan heed Weill's recommendation or just put its head in the sand and hope it all goes away?

To save needless suffering, regulators need to speak out, the J.P. Morgan board should address its governance problems, and, as Weill recommends, the company should be split in two. More

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