Bank of New York Mellon Corp. will pay $14.8 million to settle SEC claims that it broke anti-bribery laws in awarding internships to family members of officials with ties to a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund.
The bank hired sons of two officials and a nephew of one of them without adhering to its standards for evaluating candidates, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday. The internships were offered as a way to win contracts for servicing assets of the sovereign wealth fund, the SEC said in a statement.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act “prohibits companies from improperly influencing foreign officials with ‘anything of value,’” Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in the statement. “BNY Mellon deserved significant sanction for providing valuable student internships to family members of foreign officials to influence their actions.”
The SEC has made enforcing anti-bribery laws a priority. The agency is pursing high-profile cases, including allegations of favoritism for children of Chinese officials at J.P. Morgan Chase and deals in Africa involving Och-Ziff Capital Management Group.