China insurance official asked JPMorgan's Dimon for job 'favor': NYT

Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:40pm EST

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(Reuters) - China's top insurance regulator directly asked JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon to hire a family friend as a "favor," The New York Times reported, citing a confidential email.

The latest media report comes even as Wall Street's practice of hiring family and friends of China's ruling elite continues to attract the attention of regulators. U.S. authorities have been looking into the hiring practices of several banks and hedge funds, focusing on those related to well-connected foreign officials with the intent of securing business.

Dimon met the applicant, described by The New York Times as "a young woman," in June 2012. At that meeting in New York, the applicant acted as an interpreter for the Chinese insurance regulator Xiang Junbo, according to the report.

At the time of that meeting, JPMorgan was seeking lucrative work from Chinese insurance companies, the newspaper said. It said the timing of the applicant's internship at the bank may have had no connection to JPMorgan's business with the Chinese insurance industry, some of which the bank secured before the meeting. The applicant played no role in those deals, the paper said.

JPMorgan told The New York Times that Dimon had nothing to do with the decision to hire the young woman, who was described within the bank as well qualified.

"Our CEO played no role in the hiring decision, did not weigh in, and did not follow up," JPMorgan spokesman Joseph Evangelisti said in a statement to the newspaper. "It is his normal practice to pass on referrals without advice to those involved in hiring."

The New York Times did not identify the applicant.

Neither Dimon nor the applicant are suspected of any wrongdoing, the newspaper said, citing a person briefed on the investigation.

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, has been conducting an internal investigation examining the employment of around 200 people for instances of possible illegal nepotism.

Evangelisti confirmed his comments in the story when reached by Reuters on Monday.

Officials at the China Insurance Regulatory Commission did not respond to a request for comment.

JPMorgan shares were down less than 0.2 percent at $56.53 on Monday in mid-day trading in New York.

(Reporting by Chris Peters and Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Ian Geoghegan and Amanda Kwan)

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