JPMorgan Chase may have bribed high-ranking Chinese officials by hiring their
children to win lucrative business in China, federal authorities said.
The focus of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's anti-bribery unit on JPMorgan in the civil investigation was confidential until the bank referred to the inquiry in its quarterly filing this month, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The Times said it reviewed public records and the confidential U.S. government document to discover, for example, that the bank hired a former Chinese banking regulator's son, who now heads the China Everbright Group, a state-controlled financial group. After the son came on board, the bank got multiple sought-after assignments from the Chinese group.
The public records and the SEC document also showed JPMorgan's Hong Kong office hired a Chinese railway official's daughter. The official was later accused of giving out government contracts in exchange for cash bribes. The China Railway Group, a state-controlled railway construction company, had been in the process of choosing JPMorgan to advise on its plans to become a public company. JPMorgan helped China Railway raise more than $5 billion when it went public in 2007, the Times reported.
The Times said the bank hasn't been accused of bribery or other wrongdoing. The records don't show the Chinese employees were unqualified nor do they conclusively connect the bank's hiring practices to its ability to score business.
The SEC's investigation, however, suggests the bank routinely hired young associates who came from powerful Chinese families that ultimately gave the bank business, the Times said.
In addition to the Chinese railway official's daughter, the SEC document said it investigated "all JPMorgan employees who performed work for or on behalf of the Ministry of Railways" over more than six years.
"We publicly disclosed this matter in our 10-Q filing last week, and are fully cooperating with regulators," a JPMorgan spokesman said.
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