US probe wider on Wall Street firms' China hiring practices
Besides JPMorgan, five Wall Street outfits face scrutiny on suspected favours to win deals
Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank are among five Wall Street firms in addition to JPMorgan Chase whose hiring practices in China are being probed by regulators in the United States, it was reported yesterday.
Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group are also facing Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigations, which are at an early stage, The New York Times said, citing interviews with people briefed on the matter.
JPMorgan recently gave authorities spreadsheets and e-mails detailing the firm's Sons and Daughters hiring programme, according to the newspaper.
US authorities are examining whether JPMorgan violated anti-bribery laws by hiring the children and other relatives of well-connected politicians and clients in China in exchange for having business steered to the firm, a person with knowledge of the investigation said in August.
A probe of JPMorgan had reportedly uncovered an internal spreadsheet that linked appointments to specific deals.
A senior JPMorgan executive in Hong Kong wrote that the hiring programme had an almost direct correlation with winning deals to advise Chinese companies, the Times reported, citing one of the e-mails it said were obtained by US authorities.
The executive wrote that the father of a job candidate was chairman of China Everbright Group, a state-controlled financial firm, according to the newspaper.
JPMorgan ended plans to manage China Everbright Bank Co's Hong Kong share sale amid the scrutiny of its hiring practices, two people with knowledge of the matter said last month.
The US firm told Everbright that it would quit the deal because the investigation delayed an internal approval process, the people said.
The sale, at US$2 billion, would be the largest first-time offering by a Chinese lender in Hong Kong since 2009.
The spreadsheets included about 30 employees with connections to state-owned firms or Communist Party officials.
Among those cited were the daughter of the deputy minister of propaganda and a relative of a financial regulator, The New York Times reported.
The documents gave no indication that executives at JPMorgan headquarters in New York knew of the hiring practices, the newspaper said.
Spokesmen for JPMorgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, all based in New York, declined to comment, as did the SEC and the US Justice Department.
Spokesmen for Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse did not immediately respond to journalists' requests for comment.