Chinese Web users expressed cynicism yesterday about a reported US investigation into banking giant JPMorgan Chase over its hiring of influential officials’ children, with some calling the practice widespread and an “open secret.”
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is mounting a bribery probe into JPMorgan for allegedly employing officials’ relatives to help secure lucrative contracts in China, the New York Times reported on Saturday last week.
The children include the son of former Chinese banking regulator Tang Shangning (唐雙寧) and the daughter of former deputy chief engineer of China’s railway ministry Zhang Shuguang (張曙光).
The report triggered widespread vitriol on China’s microblogging social networks, with some users speculating it was common practice in the country.
“I think there would be dramatic findings if investigations were carried out into every mid-level manager from mainland China” at other investment banks, one observer wrote.
Another user, MegCH, said JPMorgan was unfortunate to be singled out: “Isn’t this a regular trick of investment banks, state-owned companies and some government agencies? JPMorgan is just unlucky.”
Some others questioned why the investigation was being conducted by US authorities.
“This is really ridiculous. Shouldn’t Chinese authorities launch probes into such matters?” asked one Internet user.
JPMorgan referred to the investigation in a securities filing earlier this month. It said the SEC’s enforcement division is seeking information about the bank’s employment of some people in Hong Kong and its business relationships with some clients, but did not give any other details.
On Sunday, JPMorgan issued a statement saying: “We publicly disclosed this matter in our 10-Q filing on Aug. 7, and are fully cooperating with regulators.”
A spokeswoman for the New York bank declined to comment further.
A 10-quarter filing is a comprehensive report of a company’s performance that must be submitted quarterly by all public companies to the SEC.