JPMorgan's link to Ms. Wen [daughter of former Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao] -- which came during a time when the bank also invested in companies tied to the Wen family -- has not been previously reported. Yet a review by The New York Times of confidential documents, Chinese public records and interviews with people briefed on the contract shows that the relationship pointed to a broader strategy for accumulating influence in China: Put the relatives of the nation's ruling elite on the payroll.


Underpinning their investigation is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which effectively bars United States companies from giving "anything of value" to foreign officials to obtain "an improper advantage" in retaining business. In recent years, the S.E.C. and the Justice Department have stepped up their enforcement of the 1977 law, which is violated if a company acts with "corrupt" intent, or with an expectation of offering a job in exchange for government business.

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