Barclays pays $6.3 million to settle U.S. SEC's Asia-Pacific hiring probe

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Raindrops are seen on the logo of a rental bicycle sponsored by Barclays in London© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Raindrops are seen on the logo of a rental bicycle sponsored by Barclays in London

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Barclays (L:) has agreed to pay about $6.3 million to settle U.S. charges it violated a federal anti-bribery law by hiring family and friends of foreign officials in the Asia-Pacific region to help win or retain investment banking business.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday said the civil settlement resolves charges that the British bank’s hiring practices in the region, including China, Hong Kong and South Korea, violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Barclays agreed to pay a $1.5 million civil fine, plus $4.8 million of disgorgement and interest. A bank spokesman, Mark Lane, declined to comment.

According to the SEC, Barclays hired 117 people between April 2009 and August 2013 who had been referred by or connected to government officials or non-government clients, and placed them in permanent jobs, its graduate program, its formal internship program or an unofficial “work experience program.”

The SEC said Barclays lacked internal controls to ensure that its employees were not engaged in bribery with respect to these “relationship hires.” It also said some Barclays employees falsified records to conceal who was requesting specific hires and the reasons for those requests.

Settlement papers describe several hires, including in Sept. 2011 when a Barclays banker in Hong Kong told colleagues that a senior executive at a private Korean bank would guarantee business “as a quid pro quo” if he could find the executive’s daughter a job.

The SEC announced the Barclays settlement nearly three years after JPMorgan Chase & Co (N:) agreed in November 2016 to pay $264 million to settle U.S. regulatory charges into its hiring practices in China, known as the Sons and Daughters program.

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