Published: Saturday 15 January 2005

Cut to the Chase
J P Morgan Chase (JPMC), the New York mega-bank, has become the target of a raucous advertising campaign that denounces it as the most ethically unsound financial institution in the world. At the forefront of the campaign is the US-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Rainforest Action Network (RAN). The NGO uses a new website to chastise and expose the bank's human rights abuses. RAN launched the campaign after the bank reneged on a promise to adopt a comprehensive environmental policy by October this year. JPMC is one of the only global banks to refuse to join the United Nations Environmental Programme Finance Initiative or the Equator Principles, which represent the bare minimum of environmental safeguards.

The site gives shocking insight into JPMC's ethical track record. Its financing of Ecuador's Oleaducto de Crudos Pesados oil pipeline is just one example of JPMC's investment in radical resource extraction from the most ecologically fragile ecosystems. In 2002, JPMC was the largest financier of US gas and oil companies. It has poured millions of dollars into China's Three Gorges Dam that will displace over a million people. Massive investments in gold mining and logging companies, such as Weyerhaeuser and International Paper, have had catastrophic effects on worldwide ecosystems.'

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