Chinese official asked JPMorgan chief to grant hiring 'favour'

Written by New York Times | Updated: Feb 11 2014, 19:08pm hrs
JP MorganThe executive suites of JPMorgan Chase in Midtown Manhattan may seem a world away from the politically connected Chinese job applicants.
The executive suites of JPMorgan Chase in Midtown Manhattan may seem a world away from the politically connected Chinese job applicants who landed on the banks payroll.

But a confidential email has emerged that shows a top Chinese regulator directly asked Jamie Dimon, the banks chief executive, for a favour to hire a young job applicant. The applicant, a family friend of the regulator, now works at JPMorgan.

Dimon met the applicant in June 2012, according to interviews and the previously unreported email, one of several documents that JPMorgan recently turned over to federal authorities as part of an investigation into hiring at the bank. At the meeting with Dimon in New York, the applicant acted as an interpreter for the Chinese insurance regulator.

JPMorgan said Dimon had nothing to do with the decision to hire the young woman, described within the bank as well qualified. And like the CEO of any large company, Dimon can be expected to meet with many people in a given day.

At the time of Dimons June 2012 meeting with the Chinese insurance regulator, Xiang Junbo, JPMorgan was seeking lucrative work from Chinese insurance companies. Xiang, a former banker who had been trying to secure a JPMorgan job for his young family friend a month before the meeting, would have a good deal of sway over those companies.

As the meeting with Dimon was wrapping up, interviews and the email show, Xiang changed the subject to his young interpreter. He introduced her to Dimon and portrayed her as the daughter of a close friend and a potential JPMorgan employee. In response to the request, Dimon told Xiang that the bank would do what we can.

With the approval of the banks compliance department, and after vetting the applicant through multiple interviews, JPMorgan created a special internship to accommodate the applicant, according to the people briefed on the situation. In early 2013, the people said, JPMorgan assigned her to a group within the banks New York headquarters that is focused on the insurance business. She later landed a full-time job at the bank.

Our CEO played no role in the hiring decision, did not weigh in, and did not follow up, a bank spokesman said in a statement. It is his normal practice to pass on referrals without advice to those involved in hiring. A spokesman for the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, where Xiang is chairman, could not be reached for comment.

Dimon played down the significance of hiring well-connected applicants. In an interview with CNBC, he said its been a norm of business for years that people hire, you know, ex-government officials, they hire sons and daughters of companies, and give them proper jobs and dont violate, you know, American Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.