Last updated: March 24, 2014 7:29 am

Top JPMorgan China banker retires amid hiring probe

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One of JPMorgan Chase’s top bankers in China is leaving the bank amid an investigation into its hiring practices in Asia.

Fang Fang, JPMorgan’s head of investment banking in China, is retiring after 12 years at the bank, according to an internal memo sent to the US bank’s staff on Monday.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice last year launched a probe of JPMorgan’s hiring practices over whether it had hired princelings – the family members of influential figures in the Chinese government and elite – to win business.

Hiring candidates in order to land specific business mandates would violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Mr Fang has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

He spoke openly to the Financial Times about his own political links in 2011, when he was nominated as a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

“It opens doors to the country’s top leaders because ... delegates can send their proposals to any ministry or provincial government and request meetings with relevant officials, and that government entity is evaluated on how responsive they are to such proposals and requests,” he said.

“There is an enormous machine working behind the scenes to ensure CPPCC requests and suggestions are all taken seriously and answered by the relevant authorities.”

The probe into the bank’s hiring practices has hurt JPMorgan’s business in Asia, causing the bank to pull out of two high-profile initial public offerings – Tianhe Chemicals and Everbright Bank.

It is one of the most significant outstanding investigations into the bank, which last year paid a record $13bn penalty over allegations it mis-sold mortgage-backed securities.

Mr Fang’s departure was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Frank Gong, a former chief China economist for the bank, will take the role of chairman of China investment banking, while two senior bankers, Brian Gu and Zhao Jing, will be named co-heads of China investment banking.

Ms Zhao is currently the head of JPMorgan’s Asia ex-Japan financial institutions group while Mr Gu is vice-chairman of China investment banking.

Mr Fang decided to leave in order to spend more time with his family, a spokesperson for the bank said.

Additional reporting by Paul J Davies in Hong Kong

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