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Richard Bistrong
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Eric Carlson
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Credit Suisse discloses FCPA investigation for Asia hiring practices

Banking giant Credit Suisse Group AG said Wednesday the DOJ and SEC are investigating its hiring practices in the Asia Pacific region.

The agencies want to know whether Credit Suisse hired referrals from government agencies and other state-owned entities “in exchange for investment banking business and/or regulatory approvals,” according to a fourth-quarter earnings release.

Zurich-based Credit Suisse said the investigation is focused on “potential violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related civil statutes.”

The bank is cooperating, it said.

The disclosure didn’t say what countries might be involved but referred to the “Asia Pacific region.”

In 2016, JPMorgan Chase paid $264 million in penalties for awarding jobs to relatives and friends of Chinese government officials to win banking deals. The FCPA enforcement action was brought by the DOJ, SEC, and the Federal Reserve.

In 2015, BNY Mellon paid $14.8 million to the SEC to resolve FCPA offenses for providing internships to family members of officials connected to a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund.

In 2016, mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. paid the SEC $7.5 million to settle FCPA offenses for hiring relatives of Chinese government officials. The officials were deciding whether to select the company’s mobile technology products, the SEC said.

Other banks that have disclosed FCPA-related investigations based on hiring practices include Citigroup Inc., Barclays PLC, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Holdings plc, and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., according to documents published on FCPA Tracker.

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The full FCPA disclosure in Credit Suisse Group AG’s February 14, 2018 “Earnings Release 4Q17” said:

Credit Suisse has been responding to requests from certain governmental and regulatory authorities, including the DOJ and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), regarding Credit Suisse’s hiring practices in the Asia Pacific region and, in particular, whether Credit Suisse hired referrals from government agencies and other state-owned entities in exchange for investment banking business and/or regulatory approvals, in potential violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related civil statutes. Credit Suisse is cooperating with the authorities on this matter.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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