LOS ANGELES—Remember 2007? Remember the "Great Recession"? Remember all the newspaper articles about how the nation's biggest banks—most definitely including JPMorgan Chase—and hedge funds had repackaged bad home loans and entered into other financial dealings that collapsed on them once the word got out about how bad those deals were, and the stock market took its deepest dive in decades?
Now, remember how one of those "ethical" banks, City National, shut down top adult star Chanel Preston's checking account and refused to give her a home loan for no legitimate reason, though Chanel suspects that it was because she did webcam shows?
Well, at roughly the same time, JPMorgan Chase also denied a loan to softcore producer Marc L. Greenberg, a long-time customer of the bank, and even though Greenberg had an annual income of half a million, and assets of $10 million, the bank nonetheless refused to do business with him for "moral reasons," according to a complaint Greenberg filed with Los Angeles Superior Court. Details of the lawsuit can be found here.
And now, it looks like JPMorgan Chase (hereafter "Chase") has climbed back on its "moral" high horse and canceled the accounts of dozens of adult performers, including Teagan Presley and Dakota Skye—and according to mainstream media scribe Perez Hilton, Chase will be closing "quite a few bank accounts… and they all belong to people in the adult film industry!"
After noting the Greenberg debacle from last year, Hilton charged, "And now, the bank is apparently hitting the porn industry again as we've been EXCLUSIVELY told hundreds of letters went out to those in the adult film industry saying their accounts would be closed on May 11, 2014." [Emphasis in original]
While responses are still coming in regarding Chase's actions, several industry members including Stormy Daniels, Bonnie Rotten, Veronica Avluv, Kieran Lee, David Lord, Francois Clousot, Charity Bangs, Alexis Amore, Eric John, Vanessa Veracruz, Layton Benton, Angelina Capri and others have reportedly received similar letters.
"Yesterday we got four letters from them: One for Teagan's personal account, one for my personal account, one for Skinworxxx and one for Rockstar," stated Director Joshua, Presley's husband, "and all four of them said the same thing: It was for 'loss prevention.' They did not give any explanation; just said they were closing our accounts. For our personal accounts, they gave us till May 11, and on the business ones, they gave us till June 14 to get our affairs in order and make sure any checks have cleared. So I called them, and they had no problem saying it's because of the business we're in, and when I asked why my account had been closed—because I've never once, ever, deposited an adult check into my personal account, ever—they came back and said it was because I was married to an 'infamous,' was the word they used, 'adult star'."
Perhaps Chase missed that 1988 California Supreme Court decision which said that adult filmmaking is not prostitution, and the movie producers aren't pimps.
"This is nothing unusual," said industry attorney Michael Fattorosi, who's looking into the legal ramifications of the account closures. "I mean, they've closed accounts for porn, for adult-related businesses for years, they’ve done this. They just have never done it en masse the way they've done it now."
And it's not just people who make porn who are apparently feeling the same heat.
"There's lots of stories on the internet about this," Joshua said. "Not only are they closing adult businesses, but they're closing anything to do with marijuana, whether it's a dispensary or a head shop, and they're closing all gun-related businesses as well. That part, I find hilarious, because that's one of our Bill of Rights that they're closing businesses on, and the biggest political action committee there is, they're closing those accounts."
Want an even bigger laugh? Grad student Tiffany Gaines decided that she wanted to take some of the stigma out of women buying condoms, since that sort of purchase is looked on by some as "the man's job." So Gaines started an online company, LovabilityCondoms.com, which she described as "the first ever condom brand that’s been exclusively designed by women, for women, to meet women’s needs."
And who did Gaines go to for an account to which payments to her business could be deposited? You guessed it! And who turned her down for just such an account? Do we even need to say?
"I wanted to let you know that we actually will not be able to move forward regarding processing with Chase Paymentech, as processing sales for adult-oriented products is a prohibited vertical," the bank reportedly told Gaines in an e-mail following up her phone call, in which she was told that it was a "reputational risk" to process payment for condoms.
"Adult-oriented products"? Condoms? Really? Hell, they give those out in high schools these days! And while liquor, for example, would certainly be an "adult-oriented product," there have been no reports of Chase canceling the accounts of bars or liquor stores... or distilleries.
"Chase is putting its values on us and controlling our ability to buy and sell products based on its own perception of what’s appropriate," Gaines told the Inquisitr website. "And its perception of what’s appropriate is very misogynistic, one-sided and selfish. For Chase to protect its reputation, it’s belittling the importance of us protecting ourselves."
And what, one might ask, gives Chase the idea that it's more "moral" than someone who makes adult movies, or sells condoms?
Well, to begin with, there's the bank's Code of Ethics, which says in part, "As a finance professional of the firm, you are expected to: Engage in and promote ethical conduct, including the ethical handling of actual or apparent conflicts of interest between personal and professional relationships, and to disclose to the Office of the Secretary any material transaction or relationship that reasonably could be expected to give rise to such a conflict; [and] Carry out your responsibilities honestly, in good faith and with integrity, due care and diligence, exercising at all times the best independent judgment."
Now, it's not as if Chase's adult industry customers have tried to rip off the bank in any way; they have just done their business and personal banking as any other citizen would, except that the payor on their checks may say something like "Wicked Pictures" or "Girlfriends Films" or any number of other adult companies that are duly licensed to do business in the state of California and elsewhere. Hence, it's hard to tell just what part of a Chase employee's directive to "engage in and promote ethical conduct" would allow them to discriminate against a citizen just because of that person's perfectly legal profession.
But as long as we're talking about ethics, let's talk about Chase's chairman of the board, one Jamie Dimon. You may have heard of him. He used to be described as "the President's favorite banker"—but that was before his bank was required to pay $920 million in fines last September for having violated Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) rules. In fact, all told Chase has paid, over the years, more than $20 billion in fines and penalties, much of them while Dimon chaired its Board.
And then there was that report created by financial analyst Josh Rosner of Graham-Fisher and Co., which accused Chase of, among other activities, "money laundering for drug cartels; violations of sanction orders against Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor; executing fictitious trades where the customer … was on both sides of the deal; misrepresentations of CDOs and mortgage-backed securities; violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act; fraudulent sale of unregistered securities; auto-finance deceptions; violations of state and federal ERISA laws; filing of unverified affidavits for credit card debt collections; energy market manipulation that triggered FERC lawsuits; “artificial market making” at Japanese affiliates; shifting trading losses on a currency trade to a customer account; fraudulent sales of derivatives to the city of Milan, Italy; and obstruction of justice (including refusing the release of documents in the Bernie Madoff case)."
Well, surely all that is worth the $9,615 per hour Dimon's currently being paid—a 74 percent increase over his 2012 wages.
Or as Robert Creamer of the Huffington Post wrote, "To put it in perspective, in 2013, Dimon made ... more in the first two hours of the first workday of the year than a minimum-wage worker made all year long."
Yeah, Dimon's way more moral than people who fuck on camera for a living!
In any case, Tiffany Gaines has created a petition at Change.org, asking that Chase "Process credit cards for online condom purchases and end the stigma against condoms," which can be found here. There's not yet a similar petition asking Chase to treat adult industry members like the human beings that companies like Chase are supposed to serve without discrimination, but perhaps it's only a matter of time.