Kamis, 08 Mei 2014

JP Morgan - you did that ?


JP Morgan ought to feel at least a modicum of shame.

Look at their sweeping action last weekend - they have reportedly closed every foreign diplomat's account. In fact they have closed every current and former  government official's account and frozen their credit cards if he was not American. The reason is that they are facing increasing compliance costs because of US government requirements that non US "politically exposed persons" have to be subject to added scrutiny. The logic behind the American government action is that every foreign diplomat is, of course, laundering money - since all non American diplomats are crooks while American diplomats are saints. JP Morgan has been facing penalties on this account and they have got so fed up that they chose to simply close every diplomat's account.

If this is not rank discrimination, then I am not sure what is. US government and officials are fine. Only non US government officials are in trouble. The good José Antonio Ocampo, former finance minister of Colombia and a past nominee for the President of the World Bank was one of those affected and he has complained to the regulatory authorities of discrimination. I hope a class action suit emanates from somewhere.

Actually the problem is not JP Morgan although they must be made to pay for this action. The real problem is the US attempting to impose unilateral laws on the world. This is part of a growing trend of holier than thou practices of the US government. Every foreign diplomat is surely a crook and must be dealt with on that assumption. The rule of law is paramount in the US and all lesser mortals please bend and obey. When reciprocity is meted out, then of course, the host country laws are not "fair". Bullshit.

The justification for all this is that this happens on US soil and therefore the US can pretty much do what it wants.  Fine, then we should simply extend that principle in every country. Ramamrithams of the world unite and go after American diplomats everywhere. Subject every diplomat to the same "added scrutiny" including the principle of guilty until proven innocent and very soon we can have a wonderful balkanisation of the world.

World diplomacy acts on give and take - not on pedantic and narrow minded imposition of unilateral laws. The US presumably acts in this manner because it has the power and therefore it can do so. That's against every principle that the US, a noble country, itself stands for. It is a measure of a strong and powerful man/community/nation as to how humbly it can exercise that power. The onus is on the strong to prove that it is fairer than fair. Soft power is often achieved by not exercising any hard power at all. There are a million ways of going after money laundering, much of which the US and many other countries do today. Blanket discrimination against foreign diplomats is not one of them. The thought that a non North American, non Western European, country invariably has lesser standards than them is exactly the stuff racism is made of. Find and punish the guilty by all means, but to assume that Asians, Africans and Eastern Europeans are likely to be guilty is, well, disgusting. The United States might wish to ponder why it is, despite all its extremely great qualities,  viewed with such disdain in most of the world.

There's a fine line between being powerful and being a bully. If it does not revoke this action, a just action by the rest of the world would be unchain Ramamritham and let him loose on American diplomats everywhere.
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