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Former JP Morgan executive was questioned by FBI: Bloomberg

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[January 20, 2014]  NEW YORK (Reuters)  A former JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> executive who ran the banks operations in Asia was questioned by FBI agents late last year about a bribery probe related to the bank's hiring practices, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing a person briefed on the matter.

Gaby Abdelnour, who left the bank in 2012, was questioned by the investigators in a New York-area airport, the report said. According to the report, Abdelnour and JP Morgan have not been accused of wrongdoing.

Abdelnour could not be immediately reached for comment. JP Morgan declined to comment.

U.S. authorities' interest in the hiring practices of banks operating in China first came to light in August when media reports disclosed that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was looking at whether JPMorgan's Hong Kong office hired the children of powerful heads of state-owned companies in China with the express purpose of winning underwriting business and other contracts.

The U.S. Justice Department is also looking at conducting an industry-wide investigation into whether banks' hiring practices in China breached U.S. bribery laws, according to people familiar with the matter.

Abdelnour headed the bank's Asia operations between July 2006 and 2012, and focused, in part, on building the bank's operations in China. In that time its Asia revenue doubled and net earnings tripled.

Abdelnour joined JP Morgan in 1998 having worked at Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong and Singapore, and before that at Bankers Trust.

(Reporting by Michael Erman; editing by Eric Walsh)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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