US SEC declares shoe-shining illegal – chopsticks ban to follow

The US’s Securities and Exchange Commission investigates investment bank JP Morgan under the country’s laws against overseas corrupt practices. These laws are not so much tough as almost impossible-to-obey for American players in some industries in some parts of the world, where nothing gets done without throwing a bit of tea money around. But in this case the suspected ‘bribery’ is no more than plain, good old-fashioned, honest, perfectly innocent, above-board, Confucio-Communist nepotistic groveling. JP Morgan may or may not be the archetypal blood-sucking parasite vermin vampire that destroyed Western civilization’s financial base in 2007, but – for those of us looking on from Asia – it should in this instance hold its head up high, look the SEC in the face and state: no case to answer.

If you’re not allowed to hire the daughter of a corrupt senior Chinese rail official and the son of a top banking regulator-turned financier, what on earth can you do? Anyone in JP Morgan’s position would – indeed does – employ the offspring of China’s hereditary state-capitalist elite. They make wonderful ornaments, guaranteed to impress at cocktail parties. They can open doors, or at least give outsiders the impression that doors can be opened. They can be discreet conduits for or sources of information (or give the impression, etc). And they can lend a sort of hard-to-define presence, something between gravitas and clout, suitable for attracting or intimidating as necessary. Not least, the very act of hiring princelings can please their powerful daddies, which the SEC won’t let you do anymore in simpler, more traditional ways. And finally there’s that inescapable nagging threat always hanging over you in the milieu of the shoe-shining culture: what will happen to us if we don’t?

The SEC presumably has no idea that we are talking about China, a country where trillions in money and assets slosh around a half-hidden no-man’s land between public and private sectors, and one official’s word can mean the difference between winning a multibillion-dollar deal and being chained up in a dungeon and tortured. Those who live by the shoe-shine, die by the shoe-shine. They usually deserve it, but in this case the accused is arguably a victim. It’s a funny world: while the Chinese state persecutes foreign companies on selective, trumped-up, protectionist-driven antitrust grounds – not to mention grabbing distant countries’ 200-mile maritime limits, and all the rest – the US authorities bludgeon their own into the ground for following the essential ‘When in Rome’ rule. The only silver lining on this gloomy cloud is that it gives foreign correspondents a perfect opportunity to use their favourite (OK, only) Chinese word, ‘guanxi’. 

On the subject of gloomy clouds… Mainland tourists on the Tsimshatsui waterfront can choose to have their photos taken with or without.

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9 Responses to US SEC declares shoe-shining illegal – chopsticks ban to follow

  1. I don’t see much difference between hiring princelings and hiring,say, trust fund Kennedy scions. Good for bank, good for tribe.

    I hope you are not going all Dave Webby and trying to reform Capitalism. You know it can’t be done.

    And surely the Americans can’t complain about corruption in China. The bigger the bubble gets, the quicker it will all come tumbling down.

    I just don’t get your objections to events sometimes.

    Leunggate gets more like Watergate every week with All The CE’s Men taking the fall. Lew is an unlikely John Dean to spill the beans and produce a smoking gun. But stranger things have happened.

    New CE: God please don’t give us a tycoon/God give us a tycoon. One is waiitng in the wings, as you know. It’s hard to decide really. It’s definitely a win for socialism and democracy, no matter who moves into Government House after Leung.

  2. PS

    Legco should appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate the extent of knowledge/participation/interference in investigation of/by CY Leung of/in the wrongdoings of his entourage.

    Looking at these affairs one by one is just wasting time.

    It’s the best way to get rid of Leung.

    Hello, Pan-Demcorate. Anyone at home?

  3. Stephen says:

    You have to be careful when hiring “Princeling’s” to ensure they don’t touch anything of importance. Remember poor old Larry of CITIC who employed his daughter and the f*ckwit managed to lose hundreds of millions in foreign exchange deals.

    And as for scions, There was old man Ng from Sino who let young Bob off the leash a bit to early back in the late ‘80’s and would have served a large custodial if it wasn’t for the good grace of the then Governor. Then there was that CH Tung fella …

  4. Gweiloeye says:

    And that is any different from a goldman sachs person going to work for the government or vice versa?? hmmm

    @Stephen – yes i can just see them being hired, sat in an office no where near anything actually happening, with a computer not connected to any bank systems except email and the internet – just imagine the weibo posts:

    “@princelingNo1: I have job – JPMorgan – Yee Haa (whiteman boss teach me to say this)
    @princelingNo1: woo hoo i got facebook and twitter – I heart JPMorgan
    @princelingNo1: JPMorgan no 1!
    @princelingNo1: have i mentioned i work JPMorgan
    @princelingNo1: have i type JPMorgan enough for bonus?”

    And the only time they speak to anyone is when the boss asks for a cup of coffee or asks them to spill the beans on what shady deals daddy is involved in this week that they can make a squillion bucks on.

  5. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    ‘Guanxi’ is no different from the ‘old school tie’ mob sorting out jobs for the dull offspring of their mates or what reportedly goes on behind closed doors on Kennedy Road.

  6. Edward Leer says:

    JP Morgan hired princelings galore
    (Though fortunately no one called ‘Bo’)
    But the damned SEC
    Don’t agree with guanxi
    So JP’s now fucked to the core

  7. ushekim says:

    Not sure cousins are still pure and goodness at heart upholding Puritan morals in business hiring, more like, again, Goldman-soaked White House doing another nail on Jaime.

  8. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    News Flash … EXCO Member and several LEGCO members accepted free flights from Cathay Pacific including for family members. This is at a time when CX is lobbying to keep another airline out of Hong Kong. Never mind the conflict of interest, this surely an ‘acceptance of an advantage’ under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. Any legal scholars here. Most interesting is that Albert HO and James TO, both pro-Democratics, had their nose in the trough. I demand a full explanation from them by tomorrow morning or their resignations.

  9. Edward Leer says:

    Old Mc JP had a farm
    Eeeye eeye o !
    On that farm he had princelings
    Eeeye eeye o !

    With a Bo Bo here and and a Gua Gua there
    Everywhere a Bo Bo, everywhere a Gua Gua

    Old Mc JP (and all the other “non-corrupt” USA Investment Bankers ) had a farm ….)

    …. call it CIA

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