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- Deutsche Bank settled a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit Thursday, paying more than $16 million over charges of nepotism and preferential hiring of foreign officials’ relatives.
- The SEC found the unethical practices dating back to at least 2006. It also discovered that policies meant to eliminate corrupt hiring were only partially enforced and not globally adopted until 2015.
- The hires revealed in the filing are related to Chinese and Russian officials, many of which tied to state-owned enterprises. One hire was described as “the classic nepo situation that we have every year” by a Deutsche Bank HR employee in London.
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The bank allegedly violated corruption law by giving jobs to under-qualified relatives of Russian and Chinese government staff. The SEC also said Deutche “created false books and records that concealed corrupt hiring practices.”
The commission found the practices date back to at least 2006, when the bank hired relatives of officials at government-owned businesses in order to build connections and better their odds of making a deal. Deutsche had released policies meant to eliminate corrupt hiring practices, but the rules were only partially enforced and weren’t used globally until 2015.
“From the outset, the primary goal of Referral Hiring was to generate business for Deutsche Bank by extending personal favors to clients, including government officials, through hiring their relatives,” the SEC filing said.
The document reveals several specific instances of unethical referral hiring. One candidate’s resume “contained numerous grammatical errors and typos” that were fixed by a bank employee. Interviewers noted the candidate was “one of the worst” from the hiring pool, yet he was hired anyway. His mother worked as an executive at a state-owned company in China.
One female candidate was described as “average-level” based on interviews and failed two tests, yet was still hired. Her father was the chairman of a Chinese state-owned corporation.
Russian candidates were also featured in the filing. An applicant in Moscow – whose father was a senior executive at a Russian state-owned entity – was hired in Russia and transferred to London. A human resource employee in the London office deemed him “the classic nepo situation that we have every year.”
During the hire’s time with the bank, Deutsche carried out a deal for the connected state-owned business.
The SEC ordered the bank to pay a fee of about $10.8 million, prejudgement interest of roughly $2.4 million, and a civil penalty of $3 million.
Deutsche stock traded about 1% lower in early Friday trading, down about 12% year-to-date. Shares closed at $7.17 per share Thursday.
The bank has two “buy” ratings, 15 “hold” ratings, and 14 “sell” ratings from analysts, with a consensus price target of $7.30, according to Bloomberg data.
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