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Daily Dispatches – JPMorgan’s Asian hiring scandal deepens

Things have gone from very bad to worse at JPMorgan, with Bloomberg reporting that the current investigation into the bank’s hiring practices in China has uncovered red flags across Asia, including an internal spreadsheet that linked appointments to specific deals pursued by the bank.

The US Department of Justice has joined the Securities and Exchange Commission in examining whether JPMorgan hired people so that their family members in government and elsewhere would steer business to the firm, possibly violating the country’s bribery laws.

Bloomberg says JPMorgan has apparently started an internal investigation that has flagged more than 200 hires for review.

The investigation initially focused on Hong Kong but has now expanded to countries across Asia, looking at interns as well as full-time workers. Employees hired include influential politicians’ family members who worked in JPMorgan’s investment bank, as well as relatives of asset-management clients.

The investigation is looking for evidence that the hires “…weren’t real jobs, that they were only there because their father or mother were important public officials,” Dan Hurson, a former US. prosecutor and SEC lawyer who runs his own Washington practice, told Bloomberg. 

The US government hasn’t accused JPMorgan or its executives of wrongdoing in connection with the hiring inquiry.

New BRICS bank in the making

Reuters cites a Wall Street Journal report that the BRICS bloc of large emerging economies have agreed on the capital structure for a proposed development bank that aims to reduce their reliance on Western financial institutions.

Officials from Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa have apparent agreed to set up the bank with a total capital of US$50 billion, shared equally among them.

The bank would support the financing needs in emerging and developing nations for roads, modern-day port facilities, and reliable power and rail services.

India’s RBI tries to curb rupee bloodbath

India’s central bank will provide US dollars directly to state oil companies in its latest attempt to shore up a currency that has slumped to a record low, according to a report in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. 

The Rupee against the US dollar since 2000. (Image: Reuters via Sydney Morning Herald))
The Rupee against the US dollar since 2000. (Image: Reuters via Sydney Morning Herald))

The Reserve Bank of India announced late on Wednesday a special window “with immediate effect” to sell US dollars through a designated bank to Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp, and Bharat Petroleum Corp “until further notice”.

The steps are the latest in a series of extraordinary measures undertaken by the RBI to combat a currency fall of more than 20% this year, by far the biggest decline among the Asian currencies tracked by Reuters.

The higher cost of oil, which has risen sharply in the part weeks on concerns about the Syrian conflict, are making it difficult for India, which is an energy importer, to contain the current account gap.

Korea’s US$360 billion National Pension Service looks for new CIO

The new chief investment officer will oversee a planned push to increase assets by 67% over the next five years, says Asian Investor.

NPS is already on track to pass US$390 billion in assets by the end of 2013, and is already the third largest pension fund in the world.

The current CIO Lee Chan-woo has been in the role for three years, and his term expires in October.

More M&A on the cards for Philippines banks

More mergers and consolidations among Philippine banks are expected to take place ahead of the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, according to a report by Asian Banking &Finance (ABF).

SM Investments Corporation chief finance officer Jose Sio told ABF that  there are likely to be more consolidations and mergers to sustain the Philippines in the long run since ASEAN integration will affect not only the banking industry but other businesses as well.

He said Philippine banks needed to become stronger to compete against other ASEAN banks that might decide to expand in the Philippines. Many discussions are going on around about mergers, he said.

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