* Departure comes amid probe of JPMorgan's hiring practices
* Fang a key figure for U.S. authorities in probe -WSJ
* Frank Gong to become firm's chairman of China investment
(Updates with confirmation memo, details of new appointments)
HONG KONG, March 24 JPMorgan Chase & Co's
chief executive for China investment banking, Fang Fang,
will leave the firm, according to an internal memo - a departure
that comes amid a probe of JPMorgan hiring practices in Asia.
The memo gave no reason for his resignation. The Wall Street
Journal, which first reported Fang's departure, said he had
emerged as a key figure for U.S. authorities as they investigate
whether the investment bank violated bribery laws by improperly
hiring the relatives of well-connected Chinese officials.
Fang, 48, could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for
JPMorgan declined to comment.
A source familiar with the matter said Fang would leave with
Frank Gong, will be promoted to chairman of investment
banking for China from vice chairman, according to the memo
obtained by Reuters on Monday. Brian Gu and Jing Zhao will
become co-heads of investment banking for China with Jing also
continuing in her current role as head of the Financial
Institutions Group for Emerging Asia.
U.S. authorities are examining whether JPMorgan's hiring of
China Everbright Group Chairman Tang Shuangning's son helped the
bank win assignments from Everbright, the Journal said, adding
that JPMorgan has provided U.S. prosecutors with emails from
Fang discussing the hire.
JPMorgan has withdrawn from underwriting a $3 billion Hong
Kong listing by China Everbright Bank Co Ltd - one
of two China initial public offerings it has stopped working on
while the investigation is being carried out.
Representatives for JPMorgan and China Everbright did not
respond to requests for comment on the hiring of Tang's son.
Fang has strong ties to the Chinese government, having been
appointed to the Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference in March 2008 for a five year term.
Other firms that have come under scrutiny for their hiring
practices in Asia include Citigroup, Goldman Sachs
and Morgan Stanley.
UBS AG has placed two Hong Kong-based bankers on
leave of absence as part of an investigation over the hiring of
an employee related to a Chinese corporate client, IFR reported
(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in NEW YORK and Lawrence White
in HONG KONG; Editing by Eric Walsh and Edwina Gibbs)