HONG KONG, May 22- A Chinese ex-JPMorgan Chase executive has been arrested in Hong Kong, according to reports, after he resigned in March as US regulators probe whether the bank broke anti bribery laws by hiring friends and family of top officials to win contracts.
Fang Fang, the former vice chairman of investment banking for Asia, was held by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Dow Jones Newswires and the respected Chinese financial news outlet Caixin said.
The 48 year old stepped down this year as the firm faces an investigation by the US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission.
He was arrested in late March and has since been released by the ICAC on bail after being questioned, according to a Caixin report on Wednesday.
Investigators are looking at Fang’s role in the hiring of the son of China Everbright Group chairman Tang Shuangning and whether the job placement helped JPMorgan win business with the conglomerate, the Wall Street Journal reported in March.
The bank has said it is cooperating with the US probes and with parallel enquiries by other governments, according to a February US securities filing.
Neither the ICAC nor JPMorgan would comment on the matter. A spokeswoman for JPMorgan said Fang was no longer an employee after resigning in March.
“The ICAC is responsible for all the anti corruption cases if they have reason to believe that anyone may have committed an offence of the prevention of bribery ordinance in Hong Kong,” former ICAC investigator Lam Cheuk-ting told AFP.
“If any employment was given over to anybody in exchange for some contract or business, without the approval of the principal concerned, it may commit an offence in Hong Kong,” Lam, who is now the chief executive of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, said.
Fang joined the Wall Street titan in 2001 and served as chief executive of its China investment banking unit before being appointed vice chairman of investment banking for Asia in 2009.
Caixin’s report, which also quoted unnamed sources, said the arrest could have been a result of “inappropriate benefits” linked to hiring children of senior officials.
At the time of his resignation, the bank said in a memo that Fang had “informed us of his desire to retire”.
The memo did not elaborate on his reason for stepping down, but said he should be credited with helping the bank achieve a leadership role in the region.
“During his time with JPMorgan, the firm has become one of the most influential investment banks in China that can rightfully claim leadership in terms of product capabilities, depth of client franchise and the strength of our team,” the memo said.