(Reuters) - U. S. authorities are seeking information from several banks and hedge funds on their hiring practices, focusing on the hiring of relatives of well-connected foreign officials with the intent of winning business, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people with knowledge of the situation.

The enquiry goes beyond a probe disclosed by JPMorgan Chase <JPM. N> earlier this month. The bank has not been accused of wrongdoing. (http://link.reuters.com/hag72v)

The Journal did not identify which banks and hedge funds have been contacted by U. S. authorities.

U. S. anti-bribery laws prohibit hiring any individual in exchange for a specific favor or benefit from an outside business partner or client.

A spokeswoman for the U. S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment outside of regular U. S. business hours.

Since the probe by U. S. authorities, JPMorgan has embarked on an internal investigation that is examining the employment of around 200 people for instances of possible illegal nepotism, a source told Reuters, indicating the bank's hiring issues may extend beyond the two cases U. S. officials originally asked about.

JPMorgan disclosed the inquiry in its quarterly regulatory filing this month.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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