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JPMorgan says to shut U.S. accounts of foreign diplomats

A sign is seen on the Canary Wharf offices of JP Morgan in London September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A sign is seen on the Canary Wharf offices of JP Morgan in London September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall

(Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co said on Wednesday it was closing the U.S. accounts of current and former foreign government officials to avoid the high compliance costs associated with these accounts.

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that the bank was closing Chase accounts and stopping credit cards of foreign officials because of the costs associated with additional scrutiny for these accounts. (http://r.reuters.com/huj29v)

"This decision is not a reflection on how these customers have handled their accounts, but rather a result of our focus on internal controls - our number one priority right now," Lauren Francis, a spokeswoman for bank, said in an emailed statement.

The ban by the largest U.S. bank by assets, which affects 3,500 accounts, has prompted former Colombia finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo to accuse it of discrimination in a complaint to the consumer regulator, the FT reported.

The ban does not apply to JPMorgan's private bank, which caters to wealthy clients, the FT report quoted a person familiar with the situation as saying.

(Reporting by Aman Shah in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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