British investment banking graduates in New York have been sacked and sent packing by JP Morgan after the trainees bluffed their way through a "basic maths" exam by taking notes into the room and copying answers in scenes reminiscent of school classroom cheating. While cheating in such exams is reportedly commonplace, the trainees, some of whom were British, were given no second chances from bank bosses and booted off the course and made to pay for their own flights home.

Nearly a dozen grads, who were training to become analysts, were answering what The Telegraph newspaper was told were "pretty basic maths and economics questions" when they were rumbled.

JP Morgan says its graduate training scheme for would-be analysts "puts motivated analysts on track for associate roles at the firm. Throughout your career, you'll be positioned for success – whether it's for a mobility opportunity or a role outside the firm." The programme includes "8-10 weeks of accounting, modelling, financial and credit analysis" and emphasises "responsibility and opportunities for leadership".

A spokesman for JP Morgan said: "This behaviour was entirely unacceptable and is not tolerated at our firm."

Earlier this year, the investment bank, whose CEO Jamie Dimon was recently thought to have become one of Wall Street's billionaire bosses, faced embarrassment after news emerged it hired the son of China's commerce minister despite the fact he did poorly at the job interview, and later accidentally sent a sexually explicit email to a human-resources employee. Gao Jue left the bank after two years.