Saturday, October 31, 2020

Ex-JPMorgan banker faces Hong Kong bribery charges over ‘princeling’ hires

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JPMorgan’s former Asia investment banking vice-chair Catherine Leung has been charged with two counts of bribery by Hong Kong’s anti-corruption watchdog for offering a job to the son of a potential client.

Leung allegedly offered employment to the son of the chairman of a logistics company in 2010 and 2011 as a reward for the chairman favoring J.P. Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) when choosing banks to work on the company’s IPO, Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said in a statement on Thursday.

Leung, currently at MizMaa Ventures, an Israeli-U.S. tech-focused venture capital firm she co-founded, did not immediately respond to a Reuters email sent via MizMaa requesting comment.

Leung has been released on ICAC bail pending a scheduled appearance in a Hong Kong magistrates court on May 20, ICAC said.

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ICAC said that in 2010 and 2011, the times of the alleged offences, Leung was responsible for sourcing business for JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) and its parent JPMorgan Chase & Co.

A spokeswoman for JPMorgan said: “This is a historical case, which J.P. Morgan reached agreement on and settled in 2016.”

“We strengthened our compliance procedures and controls around hiring and reinforced the high standards of conduct expected of our people,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

In 2016, JPMorgan agreed to pay U.S. authorities $264 million to resolve allegations it hired the relatives of Chinese officials – dubbed “princelings” – to win banking deals, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Justice Department.

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U.S. authorities at that time said JPMorgan’s Asia unit created an elaborate program, called “Sons and Daughters,” that allowed clients and influential government officials to recommend potential hires.

Leung was vice-chair of Asia investment banking when she left JPMorgan in February 2015 amid a wider reshuffle in the bank’s regional leadership.

She first joined JPMorgan in 1994, according to her LinkedIn profile, and left to join rival Merrill Lynch in 2001, before rejoining JPMorgan in 2002.

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