JPMorgan Chase, America's biggest bank, confirmed yesterday that the authorities in the United States and elsewhere are investigating its hiring practices in Hong Kong.
The bank said it had received subpoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission and document requests from both the commission and the Department of Justice.
The authorities in the US and abroad were looking at the bank's employment of people referred by clients, potential clients and government officials as well as hiring "of certain former employees in Hong Kong, its business relationships with certain related clients in the Asia-Pacific region and its engagement of consultants in the region", the bank said in a quarterly filing to the SEC.
The justice department and the SEC were examining whether JPMorgan hired the children and other relatives of well-connected politicians and clients in the hope of steering business to the firm, possibly violating anti-bribery laws, a person with knowledge of the investigation said in August.
"The firm is co-operating with these investigations," the New York-based bank said. "Separate inquiries on these or similar topics have been made by other authorities, including authorities in other jurisdictions, and the firm is responding to those inquiries."
An internal company review had uncovered red flags across Asia, including an internal spreadsheet that linked appointments to specific deals pursued by the bank, people with knowledge of the matter said in August.
The firm had flagged more than 200 hires for review at that time, the results of which JPMorgan shared with regulators, sources said.
The scrutiny began in Hong Kong and was expanded to countries across Asia, looking at interns and full-time staff. The employees include influential politicians' family members who worked in JPMorgan's investment bank, as well as relatives of asset management clients.
JPMorgan also said yesterday that it was co-operating with various government authorities investigating its foreign exchange trading business.
"These investigations are in the early stages and the firm is co-operating with the relevant authorities," it said.
JPMorgan and Citigroup put their top London currency dealers on leave after regulators probing the manipulation of foreign exchange rates started investigating the traders' use of an instant-message group, sources said this week.
Regulators are focusing on an instant-message group the traders set up to share information about their positions and client orders over at least three years. The banks in the group also included Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS, the sources said.