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Credit Suisse pays U.S. $77 million to settle Asia hiring corruption probes

(Reuters) - Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.S agreed to pay about $77 million to settle U.S. bribery probes into its awarding of jobs to family and friends of Chinese and other government officials in the Asia-Pacific region, to win lucrative investment banking business.

FILE PHOTO: A Credit Suisse sign is seen on the exterior of their Americas headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, September 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday said Credit Suisse’s Hong Kong unit will pay a $47.03 million criminal fine and enter a non-prosecution agreement, in which the Swiss bank admitted and accepted responsibility for wrongdoing.

Credit Suisse will also pay $29.82 million to settle related U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil claims.

JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N agreed to pay about $264 million in Nov. 2016 to settle similar probes into its hiring practices.

Credit Suisse was accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by hiring and promoting dozens of people connected with Asian government officials from 2007 to 2013, as a quid pro quo to win banking business.

The SEC said Credit Suisse offered jobs to more than 100 people with such ties during the period, including over 60 recommended by officials from Chinese state-owned companies.

Authorities said many of these “relationship hires” or “referral hires” were less qualified than other job candidates who lacked the desired ties.

They said one referral hire was the daughter of a top official for a state-owned Chinese energy company.

Authorities said a senior Credit Suisse investment banker in Hong Kong called the daughter “a princess (who was) not used to too many rounds of interview,” and that employees crafted a resume for her that had to be “a bit ‘creative’” in the details.

“Trading employment opportunities for less-than-qualified individuals in exchange for lucrative business deals is an example of nepotism at its finest,” William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office, said in a statement.

Credit Suisse said it has made numerous upgrades to its internal compliance procedures and controls, and there were no allegations that clients or counterparties were harmed.

The bank had disclosed the expected Justice Department settlement last month.

Credit Suisse, under Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam, is in the final stage of a three-year restructuring, following three straight annual losses tied in part to legal settlements and a scaling back of its investment banking business.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Elizabeth Dilts in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio