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Wednesday, Apr 14, 2021

Ex-JPMorgan banker’s job offer to chairman’s son was transparent, court hears

Ex-JPMorgan banker’s job offer to chairman’s son was transparent, court hears

Emails showed that Catherine Leung had told senior management about the younger man’s family and the potential business interest involved, says her defence counsel.

A former managing director of JPMorgan accused of bribing a company chairman by hiring his son did not make the job offer in secret as she had informed senior management and they did not voice objections, a Hong Kong court has heard.

Emails read in the District Court on Wednesday showed defendant Catherine Leung Kar-cheung, 52, telling her colleagues that she had offered Ang Ren-yi a job with JPMorgan Securities (Asia Pacific) following interviews and that his father Ang Keng-lam, chairman of Kerry Logistics, was “very pleased” to hear the news.

Angela Hu, JPMorgan’s then junior resources manager, also recalled Leung telling her that Kerry Logistics was going to decide on the investment bank line-up for its initial public offering when she handled the younger Ang’s application, and said she believed the hire was urgent because he was due to leave Hong Kong.

Ang Ren-yi’s father is Ang Keng-lam, chairman of Kerry Logistics.

Hu further testified that she did not know whether the bank’s legal and compliance department had approved Leung’s referral, but added that it was not necessary for regular hires relating to permanent positions such as Ang’s.

Hu has been granted immunity from prosecution to testify against Leung, who is on trial over two counts of offering an advantage to an agent, which she has denied.

Prosecutors have accused Leung of offering Ang’s father an advantage by hiring his son as an inducement or reward to become or remain favourably disposed towards JPMorgan in the engagement of investment banks or financial institutions for his company’s IPO.

The former head of Hong Kong investment banking was further accused of offering the younger Ang a job before he had completed legal and compliance checks, in a departure from standard hiring procedures under JPMorgan’s “sons and daughters programme”, also known as the “client referral programme”, which allowed staff to refer the relatives of the company’s existing and potential clients for training or employment.

But defence counsel Joseph Tse Wah-yuen SC drew the court’s attention to multiple emails before and after his client made the job offer on January 19, 2010, to show that Leung had informed her colleagues about his family and the potential business interest involved “from very early on”, when she first referred Ang on January 10 that year.

The case is being heard in the District Court.

One email, dated the following morning, showed Leung telling Hu and her then boss Timothy Fletcher, as well as Kerwin Clayton, then head of industrials, that her referral was urgent because Ang would be leaving the city on January 24.

“Ideally we would like to finish all interviews this week,” Leung wrote.

Another email, dated January 19, showed Leung telling Hu, Clayton and Roger Kennedy, then head of energy and natural resources, that she had hired Ang and told his father about the offer.

“And he was very pleased,” Leung wrote.

"It was not a secret that an offer had been made to Ren-yi Defence counsel Joseph Tse"

Tse said this showed that his client had “informed everyone”.

“It was not a secret that an offer had been made to Ren-yi,” he said.

The witness agreed that the situation was “very transparent” with “full disclosure”.

But she also said that she was not involved in all of the discussions at the later stage of the hire.

“This group of senior management, did anyone raise objections?” Tse asked.

“No,” Hu replied.

She further agreed that Leung’s referral was consistent with the purpose of the client referral programme.

Her testimony continues before Deputy District Judge Emily Cheung Sau-kwan on Thursday.


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