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JPMorgan Chase's Hiring Practices In Asia Probed

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with family ties.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: U.S. regulators have launched an investigation into the giant bank, JPMorgan Chase, related to its hiring practices in China. The bank reportedly drummed up business with state-owned firms after hiring the children of the firm's executives. The regulators aren't accusing JPMorgan Chase of anything illegal yet.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn has the story from Beijing.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: JPMorgan second-quarter filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission mentions obliquely that the commission is seeking information on some of its hires in Hong Kong. The New York Times broke the story on Saturday.

In one case, JPMorgan Chase hired the son of the chairman of a Chinese state-owned financial conglomerate called the Everbright Group. Not long after, Everbright Bank hired JPMorgan to help list its stocks on the Hong Kong exchange. JPMorgan also helped with the listing of the China Railway Group after hiring one of its executive's daughters.

Both JPMorgan and Everbright say their business dealings are transparent and in line with Chinese and foreign regulations.

Giangin Ming(ph), a corruption expert at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, says he doubts that very much.

GIANGIN MING: (Foreign language spoken)

KUHN: I believe JPMorgan's public credibility is likely to be affected by this incident, he says. It's possible that there was some exchange of favors going on because this kind of behavior represents an obvious conflict of interest. Sure, Ming says, it's true in every country that officials' kids work in finance and that personnel connections are important in business. The problem, he says, is the Chinese regulation of this sort of interaction is weak and prone to abuse. He adds that the incident is likely to fuel public anger in China at the privileges of politician's offspring.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.
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