NEW YORK, July 7 (Reuters) - JP Morgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said U.S. regulators should investigate whether people betting on Bear Stearns' stock falling deliberately brought down the investment bank.
"Where there is smoke, there's fire," Dimon said in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, televised on Monday. "I think the Securities and Exchange Commission should investigate it, okay? I think if someone knowingly starts a rumor or passes on a rumor, they should go to jail."
JPMorgan completed its fire-sale acquisition of Bear Stearns in May, following that bank's stock plunge and collapse earlier this year.
Trading volumes in Bear shares spiked in the days before the buyout of what was once the fifth-largest U.S. investment bank. Some media reports have suggested that rumors spread by short sellers betting on a fall in Bear Stearns' share price helped to finish off the bank.
"This is even worse than insider trading. This is deliberate and malicious destruction of value and people's lives," Dimon said. "They shouldn't go to jail for a short period of time. If I was the SEC, I'd find out who made the money and I'd investigate like they do when they come after us all the time, emails, phone records, you name it, and I'd find out." (Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Lincoln Feast)