Major US bank JP Morgan Chase has banned its staff from staying in any Brunei-owned hotels. It comes about after the South-East Asian country implemented a law to stone gay people to death.
According to the Financial Times, all staff received a message on the company’s internal message board earlier this month.
‘We have banned Brunei hotels from our booking system, but have not said anything publicly,’ said an anonymous senior manager at the bank. ‘So we are quietly doing the right thing, which is good I suppose.’
A JP Morgan spokesperson then confirmed the news.
Brunei owns nine luxury hotels across the world, including The Dorchester in London, 45 Park Lane in London, Coworth Park in the UK, The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, Le Meurice in Paris, Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, Hotel Eden in Rome and Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan.
What’s the anti-gay law in Brunei?
On 3 April, Brunei implemented a series of harsh sharia laws.
The new laws include stoning to death for those convicted of sodomy. Those convicted of abortions, adultery or rape will receive a public flogging and the amputation of hands and feet for convicted thieves.
Fewer than 500,000 people live in the 6,000 square kilometer country on the Island of Borneo.
But, Brunei is one of the world’s richest countries due to bountiful oil and gas reserves.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah runs the country as an absolute monarchy. He has the final say on all the nation’s laws.
He boasts a personal wealth of US$20 billion. His Brunei Investment Agency holds a portfolio of US$40 billion.
After the implementation of the anti-gay law, the United Nations condemned it as ‘cruel and inhuman’. The sultan has defended his ’sovereign right’.
The international community, led by the UN and Western governments, has expressed outrage to the anti-gay law.
Celebrities have led a boycott of the Sultan’s business portfolio.
In the UK, a Labour MP said Brunei should be chucked out of the commonwealth. A boycott of hotels, however, is unlikely to impact the sultan’s vast wealth.
Earlier this month, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Jefferies and Nomura removed 45 hotels globally owned by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah from a list of approved places to stay for all its employees.
Rich Handler, chief executive of Jeffries, told Financial News that the bank ‘supports human rights for all people regardless of race, religion, colour or sexual preference’.
Deutsche made the decision earlier in the month in support of LGBTI rights. Chief risk officer, Stuart Lewis said Deutsche had a ‘duty as a firm to take action against them’.