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Opinion

Hong Kong ex-JPMorgan princeling case gets personal

A case by Hong Kong’s ICAC against an individual on bribery charges is another example of Asia-Pacific regulators targeting the person as well as the institution.

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The decision by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to bring charges against a former JPMorgan executive for bribery marks an interesting regulatory trend: criminal charges against individuals for banking crime.

Catherine Leung Kar-cheung, who rose to be vice-chair of JPMorgan’s investment banking business for Asia-Pacific, has been charged with having bribed the chairman of a logistics company by promising to give his son employment at the bank.

This was part of what became known as JPMorgan’s ‘sons and daughters’ campaign, through which the bank hired about 200 friends and relatives of executives at Asian companies, nearly half of them connected to Chinese state-owned firms, between 2006 and 2013.

The bank was investigated by US authorities and admitted to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a 2016 settlement through which it paid $264 million to resolve civil and criminal charges.

At least 20 people were disciplined or fired, and Leung was ousted in 2015 along with fellow vice-chair Todd Marin.

On Thursday, JPMorgan told Euromoney: “This is a historical case, which JPMorgan reached agreement on and settled in 2016.

“We strengthened our compliance procedures and controls around hiring and reinforced the high standards of conduct expected of our people.”




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