Amegy Bank to Marijuana Investment Conferences: We’ll Pass

By Mark Yost
The Houston Business Journal

Stuart Maudlin, the Houston entrepreneur behind Marijuana Investment Conferences, has closed his account at Amegy Bank, a unit of Salt Lake City-base Zions Bancorporation (Nasdaq: ZION) and Houston’s fifth largest financial institution with nearly $10 billion in local deposits, after receiving a letter that the account would be closed within 10 days.
Maudlin received a letter from Amegy Bank dated May 15, which he shared with the HBJ, that said, “Amegy Bank regrets to notify you that we will be closing the Amegy Bank account referenced above.”
stuart-maudlin-304xx720-480-0-25The account is listed as Silent Auction Services Inc., DBA Marijuana Investment Conferences.
“I can reasonably infer that they’re worried about having drug money show up in my account,” Maudlin said.
The bank declined to say why it was closing the account.
“As a matter of customer privacy, we are unable to comment on any customer’s account details or activity,” Amegy spokeswoman Jaime Moulle told the Houston Business Journal.
The bank said in the letter that it would wait 10 days for any outstanding transactions to process. Maudlin told HBJ he has already closed the account himself.
“I went down and got a cashier’s check,” he said. “I didn’t want them to dilly-dally around.”
Maudlin isn’t alone. Wells Fargo and Co. (NYSE: WFC) and Vectra Bank, also a unit of Zions, have told property owners in Colorado that they would not renew loans or finance new ones on properties that lease to marijuana shops. Banks have said that while marijuana is legal or decriminalized in some states, it’s still illegal under federal law.
“It’s just awkward because we’re all caught in the federal-law issue,” Vectra CEO Bruce Alexander told the Denver Post in February. “We’re seeing that when banks find out (about a marijuana business leasing a property), they are given an element of time to cure it, to get the tenant out or move on.”
But Maudlin isn’t running a head shop or hydroponics business. He’s merely organizing an investors conference.
“I’m running a perfectly fine business,” he told HBJ.
Asked if he’s going to close his other accounts at Amegy, Maudlin said, “I’m gonna take care of one problem at a time.”
“This isn’t a pot party,” Maudlin said about the business, which plans to host its first conference at the Westin Memorial City Hotel in September. “It’s about putting people together who want to invest in this new market.”
Maudlin also said the conference won’t be about lobbying for legalization here in Texas, even though Gov. Rick Perry said back in January that he supports decriminalization at the state level. HBJ readers also support legalization in the state, according to a Bizpulse survey.
“We’re agnostic on that,” Maudlin said.
Maudlin said he expects the conference to go forward and is currently looking for another bank.

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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