Dec 7 (Reuters) - Internal JPMorgan Chase & Co emails and computer files being examined by U.S. authoritiesshow that the bank favored hiring people from prominent Chinesefamilies in order to win investment banking business, the NewYork Times reported on Saturday.
The documents show that a JPMorgan program designed toprevent questionable hiring practices was ultimately viewedinside the company as "a gateway to doing business withstate-owned companies in China," the Times said, adding that ithad reviewed copies of the emails and computer spreadsheets.
In one email, an executive said that hiring sons anddaughters of powerful people in China "almost has a linearrelationship" with winning assignments, the Times said.
A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment on the report, asdid representatives of the U.S. Securities and ExchangeCommission and the office of the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn,New York, which are investigating the matter.
The Times said there "is no indication that executives atJPMorgan's headquarters in New York were aware of the hiringpractices described in the documents."
JPMorgan first disclosed in August that the U.S. Securitiesand Exchange Commission was investigating its employment ofcertain people and its relationships with certain clients.
Since then, the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice andhave stepped up an industry-wide probe that has been a cause ofalarm for global banks. Morgan Stanley, Goldman SachsGroup Inc and Citigroup Inc are among the banksthat have received requests for information from the SEC.
It had become a common practice for investment banks to hirepeople with government connections. This is especially prevalentin China because of the role the ruling Communist Party plays inthe country's business.
The law enforcers are examining whether hiring practicesviolated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. law that barsbribes or special favors to foreign government officials inexchange for business. At issue is whether the banks hiredunqualified applicants as a favor to a government official whowas in a position to award them business.
One person familiar with the SEC inquiry has likened theprobe to a previous investigation U.S. authorities conductedinto whether oil and gas companies paid bribes to circumventimport regulations in Africa and elsewhere.