Republican attorneys general from 19 states have accused JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) of persistently discriminating against its clients and closing bank accounts without warning.
According to a letter reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, JPMorgan has allegedly — and repeatedly — discriminated against customers based on their religious or political beliefs. Law enforcement officials, led by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, sent the letter to JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, the publication reported.
Attorney Generals claimed that the bank refused to participate in a survey that outlines the bank’s social and political stance.
“It is clear that JPMorgan has persistently discriminated against certain customers due to their religious or political affiliation. This discrimination is unacceptable. Chase must stop such behavior and align its business practices with the [anti-discrimination] policies that Chase proclaims,” the letter read.
The attorney general cited the account closure of a religious liberty organization as an example of the bank’s allegedly discriminatory practices.
“In May 2022, Chase abruptly closed the National Committee for Religious Freedom’s (NCRF) checking account. NCRF is a ‘nonpartisan, faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the right of everyone in America to live one’s faith freely.’ NCRF’s National Advisory Board includes Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim members,” the letter read.
According to the complaint, a JPMorgan employee told the group that the bank would restore the NCRF’s account if it provided a list of its donors, the political candidates it intended to support, and details of the criteria used to determine its support and endorsements.
“The bank’s bold attempt to condition critical services on a customer passing some unarticulated religious or political litmus test flies in the face of Chase’s [anti-discrimination] policies. Worse, it flies in the face of basic American values of fairness and equality,” the attorneys wrote in the letter.
The attorneys general also called on the bank to publicly disclose its internal policies on account closures.
“To be clear, banks generally have the right to conduct their business however and with whomever they choose. But a bank does not have the right to mislead its customers,” the letter read.
In response, JPMorgan asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to ignore a proposal for the bank to disclose its policy for closing accounts.
The WSJ reported that the bank also refuted the allegations and declined to address details of individual accounts.
“We have never and would never exit a client relationship due to their political or religious affiliation,” a bank spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal in a statement.
The spokesperson also noted that the bank serves 50,000 accounts with religious affiliations.
Earlier in March, the Wall Street Journal reported that the treasurers from 14 Republican states also wrote a letter to Dimon with similar claims.
JPMorgan’s pay platform, WePay, denied the conservative group, Defense of Liberty, service in 2021 to process ticket sales that featured Donald Trump Jr.
The banking giant came out with a statement an attempt to refute the AG’s accusations of discrimination against religion and political stance.
“We have never and would never exit a client relationship due to their political or religious affiliation,” JPMorgan spokesperson Trish Wexler said in a statement to Banking Dive. “We serve 50,000 religious nonprofits throughout the country, among our nearly 80 million consumers and 5.7 million small business clients. These allegations are inconsistent with our business model that serves Americans in all 50 states, of all political stripes and religions.”
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