July 18, 2019 / 3:08 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 3-Former JPMorgan senior banker pleads not guilty to HK bribery charges

    * Leung secured employment at JPM for Kerry Logistics'
son - prosecution
    * Leung allegedly offered job to get business from Kerry
    * Trial to start on Feb. 25, 2020

 (Updates with Kerry Logistics' statement)
    By Alun John and Felix Tam
    HONG KONG, July 18 (Reuters) - A former JPMorgan        
Asia investment banking vice-chair, Catherine Leung, pleaded not
guilty to charges of bribery in a Hong Kong court on Thursday.
    Leung was charged in May by Hong Kong's Independent
Commission Against Corruption with bribing the then chairman of
a potential client, a logistics company, by employing his son at
the U.S. investment bank.             
    While Hong Kong's anti-corruption watchdog did not name the
company or the chairman at the time, the prosecution in the
Leung case said on Thursday that she had "offered advantages" to
Keng-lam Ang, chairman of Kerry Logistics Network Ltd          .
    Leung did that in anticipation that Ang would return the
favour by influencing Kerry Logistics and its parent Kerry
Properties Ltd           to give business to JPMorgan, the
prosecution alleged in its summary of facts.
    Leung did not comment when approached by Reuters outside the
court room. Ang and his son could not be immediately reached for
comment via their current employer. 
    A Kerry Logistics representative said in an email that Ang
stepped down from Kerry Logistics Network Limited's chairmanship
in August 2012, and that JPMorgan did not participate in Kerry
Logistics' IPO in December 2013. 
    A spokeswoman for Kerry Properties did not immediately
respond to a request for comment. 
    A spokeswoman for JPMorgan declined to comment and instead
referred to the bank's statement made when Leung was charged in
May that said: "This is a historical case, which J.P. Morgan
reached agreement on and settled in 2016".
    JPMorgan agreed to pay U.S. authorities $264 million in 2016
  to resolve allegations it hired the relatives of Chinese
officials - dubbed "princelings" - to win banking deals. 
    The bank did not admit or deny the charges. As part of its
settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, a Hong Kong unit of
the bank admitted to making quid pro quo hiring agreements with
Chinese officials to win investment business.
    U.S. authorities at the time said JPMorgan's Asia unit
created an elaborate programme, called "Sons and Daughters",
that allowed clients and influential government officials to
recommend potential hires.
    Leung was vice-chair of Asia investment banking when she
left JPMorgan in February 2015. She first joined JPMorgan in
1994, according to her LinkedIn profile, and left to join rival
Merrill Lynch in 2001, before rejoining JPMorgan in 2002.
    In 2009, Kerry Properties           decided to spin out and
list Kerry Logistics           in Hong Kong. Leung liaised with
top company executives for the IPO and other services that
JPMorgan could offer, the prosecution summary showed.
    Having considered the existing and potential business
opportunities from Kerry Logistics, Leung allegedly sought to
offer the chairman's son, Ang Ren-yi, a job with JPMorgan under
the bank's "Sons and Daughters" programme, the summary said.
    Kerry Logistics is "close to mandating banks for their IPO.
We are a strong contender. Blink Blink nod nod, can we find a
place for his son ...", Leung allegedly wrote in an internal
email to her colleagues on Jan. 10, 2010. 
    Leung arranged interviews for the son and persuaded her
colleagues to hire him, the prosecution summary said, adding
that Ang Ren-yi was given a job contract starting from June. 28,
2010 as an analyst with the bank in Hong Kong.      
    Ang Ren-yi resigned from JPMorgan on Oct 28, 2011.  
    Management of Kerry Logistics said they did not allow Ang,
or any employee, to accept advantages from JPMorgan staff as
rewards for showing favour to JPMorgan, the document shows. 
    Leung's trial has been set to start on Feb. 25, 2020, and
will continue for eight days, Glen Kong, prosecutor, said.  
    Kong asked the judge to consider merging Leung's case with
that of another ongoing investigation as the two share a similar
witness list.
    No arrests have been made in the other case but the suspect,
currently in mainland China, is likely to return to Hong Kong,
Kong said. Details of the case were not available.
    Judge WK Kwok did not immediately make a decision about
merging the two cases.

 (Reporting by Alun John and Felix Tam in Hong Kong; Writing by
Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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