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Mueller confirms preliminary probe of JPMorgan

FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday the bureau has launched a preliminary investigation of JPMorgan Chase & Co. following a $2 billion trading loss at the bank.

Mueller's comment at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was the first on-the-record confirmation of the probe.

On Tuesday, a law enforcement official said that the FBI's New York office is heading an inquiry into the JPMorgan loss.

"All I can say is we've opened up a preliminary investigation," Mueller told the Senate panel. Mueller said that opening a preliminary investigation "depends on a number of factors," which he did not enumerate.

Under attorney general guidelines for FBI operations, a preliminary investigation may be initiated on the basis of any allegation or information indicative of possible criminal activity. Time limits are set for completion of preliminary investigations — usually six months, although six-month extensions can be granted. Extensions of preliminary investigations beyond a year must be approved by FBI headquarters.

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