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As US Restricts Diplomats and UN Staff from Cuba & Iran, JPMC Bank Cut Offs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 14 -- When the UN's Sixth (Legal) Committee took up the US as "Host Country" on November 14, not only American banks' cut off of services to mission but also restrictions on movement were raised.

  Inner City Press has previously reported how the US restricts movement to 25 miles from Columbus Circle for not only countries' diplomats but even UN staff members from that country.

  Cuba complained of just this on November 14, saying that it violates international law and conventions, including the US' Host Country agreement.

  Back on September 10, the same day the banking industry's lawsuit against New York City's responsible banking ordinance was dismissed, at the UN on First Avenue the General Assembly issued muted criticism of JPMorgan Chase. Video here, from Minute 2:59:35.

  Back on March 18 JPMorgan Chase came up as a topic, and target, in a closed door meeting at the UN of the Group of 77 and China on March 18, several Permanent Representative then exclusively told Inner City Press. They marveled that the UN does business with JPM Chase while the bank cuts off many of the member states of the UN.

  In April, a G77-agreed draft resolution emerged, including a review of the UN's relations with JPM Chase -- by name. Inner City Press has publishing the full text of that draft, below.

  But in the months since April, the resolution got watered down, until it was adopted without opposition or debate at the end of a three-hour UN General Assembly session on September 9. (There was debate about Argentina and sovereign debt restructuring, which Inner City Press covered yesterday here.)

   Introducing the resolution was Bolivia, as chair of the Group of 77 and China; their speech said that banks in the City of New York have "humiliated" several nation's UN missions.

  Here is the adopted text of the resolution, seen in advance by IPS, which also quoted Sri Lanka's ambassador Palitha Kohona about it. Kohona was previously, among other things, a UN official, so he should know.

  Still, the idea that asking Ban Ki-moon to press the US to do almost anything is dubious. Will JPMorgan Chase view a UNGA resolution in which it is not directly named, only "sub-tweeted," as a threat to its reputation? After its behavior during the subprime lending meltdown -- the predatory bender -- does that even have to be asked?

  Back on March 18 in the half-light of the UN Conference Building's second floor, ambassadors complained that while JPMorgan Chase is moving to deny many of their missions bank accounts, the bank also overcharges them when for example they pay or get paid by UN Peacekeeping.

  The idea discussed was to draft and vote on a General Assembly resolution on the topic. The US government is required, under the UN Host Country Agreement, to try to ensure banking services for countries' diplomatic missions. Here is the G77-agreed language, on which for now the UN Secretariat has declined comment:

7 April 2014 Group of 77 and China DRAFT RESOLUTION General Assembly Sixty-eighth session

Agenda item 124 Strengthening of the United Nations system

Agenda item 125 United Nations reform: measures and proposals

Enhancement of the administration and financial functioning of the United Nations

The General Assembly,

PP1 Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and its relevant provisions,

PP2 Considering the agreement established by the United Nations, the host country, and the City of New York, in order to guarantee the rights, obligations and the fulfillment of responsibilities by Member States towards the United Nations, under the United Nations Charter and international law,

PP3 Taking into consideration also that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the host country agreement of 26 June 1947 approved by General Assembly resolution A/RES/169(II), are the regulatory framework for States and international organizations, in particular the relations for the United Nations headquarters in the City of New York and the Member and Observer States,

PP4 Expressing its deep concern over the decisions made on a number of occasions by several banking institutions, including JP Morgan Chase Bank (the United States consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co.) in relation to the closing of the Permanent Missions’ accounts and the accounts of their staff accredited to the United Nations and their relatives,

PP5 Regretting the notifications made by the host country to the Permanent Missions, indicating that the relations between the Permanent Missions of Member and Observer States and their staff with the banking institutions in the City of New York, as well as the financial relations between the United Nations Secretariat and the banking institutions, are both of a private nature and are not regulated, directed, or oriented in any way by the host country or any of its agencies,

PP6 Stressing that Governments of Members and Observers of the United Nations, the Permanent Missions and their staff, as well as the United Nations headquarters, UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, ought to be guaranteed the normal functioning of their facilities in order to discharge their duties, and recalling the obligations of the Host Country under international law to accord full facilities for the performances of the functions of the Permanent Missions accredited to the United Nations;

PP7 Keeping in mind the need for Permanent Missions and the United Nations organization as a whole, to establish long-term business relations based on mutual trust and respect, especially in light of the latest actions taken by some banking institutions, including the JP Morgan Chase Bank in this regard,

OP1 Requests the Secretary General to review and report to the General Assembly, within the next 120 days following the adoption of the present resolution, of any obstacles or impediments observed in the accounts opened by the Permanent Missions of Member and Observer States or their staff at the JP Morgan Chase Bank in the City of New York, and the impact that these impediments have on the adequate functioning of their offices, and, to this end, invites Member and Observer States to provide the Secretary General with relevant information that will facilitate the elaboration of such report;

OP2 Also requests the Secretary General to submit to the General Assembly a set of recommendations and a proposal oriented to reviewing the U.N. Secretariat’s financial relations with the JP Morgan Chase Bank and considering alternatives to such financial institutions and to report thereon along with the information requested in OP1 above;

OP3 Further requests the Secretary General, as soon as possible but not later than 30 days from the adoption of the present resolution, to provide Member and Observer States with alternative options regarding banking services in the City of New York, to allow them to adequately manage and maintain their accounts, assessed budgetary contributions, voluntary contributions, transfers and other financial activities directly related to their membership to the United Nations, and their Permanent Missions, while reassuring, by holding proper negotiations on this matter in his capacity as UN chief administrative officer, including with the host country, that all Permanent and Observer Missions and their staff and their family members will be granted equal, fair, and non-discriminatory treatment from the referred institutions when conducting their respective accounts;

OP4 Requests the host country, in light of its obligations under international law including the host country agreement, in particular sections 1, 2(b) and 27 and especially stressing the provisions as outlined in section 25, and the Vienna Convention, to take, as soon as possible, all the necessary measures to ensure Permanent Missions accredited to the United Nations and their staff are granted equal, fair and non-discriminatory treatment by the banking system;

OP5 Underscores the importance of the host country taking the necessary measures to ensure that personal data and information of persons affected by the closure of accounts is kept confidential by banking institutions, including the JP Morgan Chase Bank and the possible successors of those institutions, and requests the Secretary-General to work with the host country in that regard and to report to the General Assembly within 90 days;

OP6. Decides to keep this matter under review during the 68th session of the General Assembly as well as the following sessions.

   So JPMorgan Chase was in PP4 of the April draft, but its name was dropped before the September vote. JPM Chase was centrally involved in the 2008 predatory lending meltdown that hurt the economies of countries around the world, as Inner City Press has covered in depth. It has avoided any jail time for that, and now slips out of a UNGA resolution. But the press for accountability will continue. Watch this site.


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