May 7 A U.S. regulator has expanded its probe
into major banks' hiring practices in Asia and sent letters to
at least five U.S. and European banks in early March seeking
more information, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
According to the Journal report, the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission sent the letters to Goldman Sachs Group Inc
, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc, Credit
Suisse Group AG and UBS AG.
The SEC is examining whether the banks or their employees
violated anti-bribery laws by hiring relatives of well-connected
officials, the WSJ reported. (r.reuters.com/tyc29v)
The regulator has not accused any of the banks of
wrongdoing, the paper said.
Andrew Williams, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, declined to
comment on the report, as did Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a
Citigroup spokeswoman, and Jack Grone, a spokesman for Credit
John Nester, a spokesman for the SEC and representatives at
UBS and Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to requests
for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.
U.S. authorities' interest in the hiring practices of banks
operating in Asia first came to light in August, when media
reports said that the SEC was looking at whether JPMorgan Chase
& Co's Hong Kong office hired the children of powerful
heads of state-owned companies in China with the express purpose
of winning underwriting business and other contracts.
The commission is seeking data on the banks' recruiting in
Asia, including lists of employees hired due to referrals from
foreign officials and clients, the Journal report cited unnamed
people close to the inquiry as saying.
In March, JPMorgan's chief executive for China investment
banking, Fang Fang, quit the bank after his name emerged in the
The SEC had last year sent notices to some banks as part of
an industry-wide investigation about whether the banks had
special programs dedicated to relatives of influential
The SEC inquiry is focused on potential breaches of the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars U.S. companies from
giving money or other items of value to foreign officials to win
(Reporting by Anannya Pramanick and Aman Shah in Bangalore;
Editing by Mohammad Zargham)