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U.S. probe into JPMorgan hiring practices widens: Bloomberg

The lobby of JP Morgan headquarters is photographed through it's front doors in New York May 11, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
The lobby of JP Morgan headquarters is photographed through it's front doors in New York May 11, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

HONG KONG (Reuters) - U.S. government investigations into the hiring practices of JPMorgan in China have uncovered evidence including a spreadsheet that links hires to specific deals, Bloomberg News reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The Justice Department has joined the Securities and Exchange Commission in looking into whether JPMorgan hired people in China because their family members would in turn offer business to the bank, the report said, citing one of the people.

The probe, which had initially centered on the bank's Hong Kong office, has also widened to include countries across Asia and more than 200 interns and full-time staff, according to the Bloomberg report.

The investigation could see the U.S. bank charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices act, which prevents companies from paying cash or providing anything of value to government employees in order to win business.

While banks have always sought to hire staff with influential connections to government and clients, a practice which is not illegal, the probe centers on so-called sham roles in which the employee is taken on purely for those connections and does little or no other work for the bank.

Marie Cheung, a JPMorgan spokeswoman based in Hong Kong, referred Reuters to a previous comment saying the bank is cooperating fully with regulators and declined to comment further.

Press officers for the SEC and Justice department did not immediately respond to messages left when contacted outside U.S. business hours.

(Reporting by Lawrence White in HONG KONG; Additional reporting by Douwe Miedema in WASHINGTON; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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