HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong judge on Monday found JPMorgan’s former vice chairman of Asia investment banking, Catherine Leung, not guilty of bribery following her trial held late last year, saying she had followed the bank’s existing procedures.
Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), in 2019, charged Leung with bribing the chairman of a logistics company, by employing his son at the bank’s Hong Kong office in 2010.
She did so, the prosecution told the court last year, in anticipation that Ang Keng-lam, the then chairman of Kerry Logistics Network Ltd, would influence his company to give JPMorgan a role on its up-coming initial public offering (IPO).
However, deputy district judge Emily Cheung told the court, when explaining the reasons for her not guilty verdict, that Leung had not played a major role in the decision to hire Ang’s son, Ang Ren-yi, and that Leung had followed procedures required under JPMorgan’s client referral programme.
That programme allowed staff to refer the children or relatives of the company’s existing and potential clients for training or employment.
Cheung said in a three hour-long explanation of her verdict that it was the responsibility of JPMorgan’s Junior Resources Management team to make checks with the bank’s legal and compliance department when employees were being hired under the scheme.
Ang Ren-yi worked at JPMorgan from June 2010 until October 2011, according to court documents.
Leung, who left the Wall Street bank in 2015 according to her LinkedIn profile, did not comment when approached by Reuters outside the courtroom on Monday. A representative of both Angs’ current employer Metropoly Holdings Ltd said they had no comment.
An ICAC spokeswoman said the Commission “respects the court ruling. We will study the reasons for the verdict in consultation with the Department of Justice.”
JPMorgan declined to comment.
In 2016, JPMorgan agreed to pay U.S. authorities $264 million to resolve allegations it hired the relatives of Chinese officials, including those working at state owned enterprises in order to win banking deals. [tinyurl.com/y5ulgozz]
At that time a JPMorgan spokesman said the conduct was unacceptable, the hiring programme was halted in 2013 and the bank took actions against those responsible.
Reporting by Sharon Tam and Alun John; Editing by Anshuman Daga and Jacqueline Wong and Simon Cameron-Moore