JPMorgan agrees to $75 million settlement with US Virgin Islands in Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case
New York Daily News September 26, 2023
NEW YORK (Tribune News Service) — JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to shell out $75 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands in a lawsuit alleging America’s biggest bank was a fundamental enabler of Jeffrey Epstein’s years-long sex trafficking of teenage girls, representatives for the financial institution said Tuesday.
The bank will shell out $20 million to charities in the U.S. territory where the deceased financier committed much of his abuse on his two private islands, $10 million toward mental health services for Epstein victims, $25 million to local law enforcement, and $20 million towards legal fees. It also reached a tentative settlement in related litigation with former Barclays Bank chief executive and Epstein pal Jes Staley.
The settlements add to the $290 million that JPMorgan agreed to pay a class of Epstein victims in a separate lawsuit in June, which also accused it of providing critical banking services to the prolific abuser from 1998 to 2013 when he was targeting children for sex trafficking despite glaring red flags. Deutsche Bank, where Epstein took his money after parting with JPMorgan, also reached a $75 million settlement with his victims in June. All of the agreements are waiting for approval by Manhattan Federal Court Judge Jed Rakoff.
The settlements appear to bring to a close a years-long pursuit of justice for Epstein’s depraved abuse against young girls after his suicide at age 66 inside Manhattan’s now-shuttered Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. More than 100 women have accused him of sexually abusing them, many of them when they were minors, but the only person who has been held criminally accountable is Ghislaine Maxwell. His former lover and associate was found guilty in late 2021 of grooming his victims for at least a decade starting in 1994 and is serving a 20-year sentence in Florida.
The cases against JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank sought to shed light on how the deep-pocketed Brooklyn native got away with his abuse for as long as he did — with unreserved access to hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the Virgin Islands case, which sought $190 million and was headed to trial on Oct. 23, Justice Department investigators found JPMorgan “pulled the levers through which recruiters and victims were paid” in “a criminal enterprise whose currency was the sexual servitude of dozens of women and girls in and beyond the Virgin Islands.”
JPMorgan notified the Treasury Department after Epstein’s 2019 suicide in custody that it had processed $1 billion in suspicious transactions related to his trafficking over 16 years, the territory’s lawyers revealed at the last court hearing.
As in the victims’ lawsuit, JPMorgan need not admit wrongdoing. A rep noted it is not required to make any new internal commitments to combat human trafficking but will “continue to work with law enforcement” and work to identify “improper money movement into the global payments systems.”
“There are no new commitments. Our controls, compliance, risk, and other functions are always improving, and we are continually investing to become even better,” Patricia Wexler said.
“While the settlement does not involve admissions of liability, the firm deeply regrets any association with this man, and would never have continued doing business with him if it believed he was using the bank in any way to commit his heinous crimes.”
The Virgin Islands’ lawsuit laid out multiple wake-up calls JPMorgan disregarded relating to Epstein’s accounts. The territory’s lawyers recently argued in court that undisputed evidence in related litigation showed JPMorgan execs knew of allegations two years before Epstein’s 2008 conviction for soliciting a teenager for sex and that he paid for his massages with cash. They noted the bank had a record of him paying $4 million to girls and women, many with Eastern European names, and withdrawing $5 million in cash.
On Tuesday, U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith noted the case was the first enforcement action ever brought against a bank alleging it facilitated and profited from human trafficking.
“This settlement is an historic victory for survivors and for state enforcement, and it should sound the alarm on Wall Street about banks’ responsibilities under the law to detect and prevent human trafficking,” Smith said.
“Our Department of Justice tirelessly pursued this enforcement action to make it substantially harder for traffickers to finance their crimes in the future, and we are confident this settlement will help achieve that goal.”
Throughout the Epstein litigation in which it’s been entangled for the last year, JPMorgan sought to pin the blame on its former head of asset management, Staley, suing him for damages to victims it said he should pay.
Staley, a decades-long JPMorgan exec who went on to become the CEO of Barclays, resigning in 2021 amid Epstein-related allegations, has been accused of raping one of the perverted money manager’s victims when he was his primary liaison at JPMorgan. Staley vehemently denies the allegation.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, during a May deposition, strongly denied knowing Epstein personally and said Staley left him in the dark about his high-risk client.
“The right people were looking at the facts at the time. That’s their job,” Dimon said. “I’ll take back my answer. Jes Staley should have told me some things. He should have told the group some things. This may have turned out differently.”
Staley’s lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment about his undisclosed settlement with JPMorgan.
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