Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (“BNY”) said in a January 23, 2015 securities filing that it had received a Wells Notice from the SEC indicating that the SEC had preliminarily determined to recommend an enforcement action against the bank for possible FCPA violations. Certain current and former employees had received a Wells Notice in the third quarter of 2014 and the bank itself received a Wells Notice in the fourth quarter. The SEC’s inquiry focuses on BNY’s provision of internships to relatives of sovereign wealth fund officials.
While the details of the SEC’s allegations against BNY are not known, the SEC’s investigation has been ongoing since at least 2011, and follows other efforts by the agency to investigate large banks’ hiring practices overseas. As previously reported by the Wall Street Journal, in March 2014, the SEC sent letters to at least five U.S. and European banks, including Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc., and UBS AG, seeking more information about their hiring practices in Asia and to examine whether the banks violated the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions by hiring relatives of well-connected government officials.