JPMorgan Chase is currently under investigation by US authorities for suspected ties with former-Premier Wen Jiabao. The New York Times reports that the company secretly hired the daughter of Wen Jiabao under an alias to ‘promote’ the company and secure further business in China.
According to the report, JPMorgan paid 1.8 million USD from 2006-2008 to a “seemingly obscure” consulting firm being run by a 32-year-old executive under the name Lily Chang.
JPMorgan offered the firm, which appeared to have only two employees, a 75,000 USD-a-month contract, odd, as Chang had seemingly little influence or public name recognition to help promote the bank.
The Times reports, however, that JPMorgan executives in Hong Kong as well as at other major companies were aware that “Lily Chang” was an pseudonym for Wen Ruchun, 40, who was the daughter of Wen Jiabao, the then-prime minister of China.
Now, United States authorities are scrutinizing JPMorgan’s ties to Ms. Wen, whose alias was government approved, as part of a wider bribery investigation into whether the bank swapped contracts and jobs for business deals with state-owned Chinese companies, according to the documents and interviews. The bank, which is cooperating with the inquiries and conducting its own internal review, has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The Times reports that Wen’s husband was also working as an official at the China Banking Regulatory Commission since 2006.
Lily Chang was the government-approved alias that Wen used while studying for an M.B.A. at the University of Delaware and while she lived in Manhattan. For this reason, Wen held two national identity cards with matching birth dates.
Wen’s firm, Fullmark Consultants, claimed to have “introduced and secured” business for JPMorgan from the China Railway Group and the bank reportedly was an underwrite in the company’s 5 billion USD initial public offering in 2007.
The report has not confirmed whether or not Wen Jiabao had any direct role in the deal, but as the then-prime minister, state-owned companies like China Railway Group were under his control.
The Times reports that efforts to reach Wen and her family were unsuccessful, and this isn’t the first time they’ve had journalists calling. In April, the New York Times Shanghai bureau chief David Barboza was award the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his investigation into the secret wealth amounted by Wen Jiabao’s family members.
JPMorgan is no stranger to scandal, either. Last month, the bank closed a 13 billion USD settlement with the US Justice Department to settle investigations into some bad mortgage loans sold before the financial crisis.