Skewering JPMorgan’s attempt to deflect blame on its former senior executive Jes Staley, the Virgin Islands government told a judge on Thursday that the bank’s role in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking went straight to the top.
“If Mr. Staley is a rogue employee, why isn’t Jamie Dimon?” the government’s private counsel Mimi Liu thundered, urging a judge to advance their lawsuit.
In August 2008, an internal JPMorgan email discussed the flow of Epstein’s assets, with a reference to “pending Dimon review.”
“That’s Jamie Dimon,” said Liu, an attorney at Motley Rice.
After that message, she noted, Epstein remained a client for five more years. The review occurred two years after Epstein’s arrest in Florida — and a little more than a month after Epstein’s guilty plea on June 30, 2008.
The remarks provide insight into why the Virgin Islands issued a subpoena to Dimon earlier this year — and why Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff signed off on it. JPMorgan insisted that Dimon is “not relevant” to the lawsuit, asserting that he wasn’t involved in any decisions related to Epstein’s account. Their arguments ultimately didn’t sway the judge on the discovery motion.
JPMorgan, the world’s largest bank by market capitalization, was Epstein’s bank of choice between 1998 and 2013, well after Epstein’s Florida prosecution for soliciting prostitution with a minor.
That relationship has been under a newfound spotlight after Epstein survivors and the Virgin Islands sued JPMorgan Chase late last year, claiming that it “facilitated, sustained and concealed” Epstein’s abuse.
Earlier this month, JPMorgan launched a counteroffensive against their former senior executive James Edward “Jes” Staley, claiming he “concealed his personal activities” with Epstein.
The Virgin Islands, however, says that their knowledge of Staley’s actions came from JPMorgan’s internal files.
“These were JPMorgan’s documents,” Liu said. “Everything we knew, JPMorgan knew.”
During his time at JPMorgan, Staley cultivated deep personal and business ties with Epstein at a time when the executive led the bank’s asset management and investment division. Staley exchanged upwards of 1,200 messages with Epstein. He sent one of those messages from Epstein’s private island, “Little St. Jeff’s,” while his client was in a Florida prison. (That was Epstein’s moniker for the property, riffing off Little St. James.) In their lawsuit, the Virgin Islands provided glimpses of those exchanges culled from the bank’s internal files.
“So when all hell breaks lo[o]se, and the world is crumbling, I will come here and be at peace,” Staley wrote to Epstein from the Virgin Islands on Nov. 1, 2009, during Epstein’s incarceration. “Presently, I’m in the hot tub with a glass of white wine. This is an amazing place. Truly amazing. Next time, we’re here together. I owe you much. And I deeply appreciate our friendship. I have few so profound.”
That was only one of Staley’s visits to Epstein’s island.
The Virgin Islands alleges that they traced payments from Epstein’s accounts at JPMorgan to women with Eastern European surnames, timed near Staley’s visits to the sex offender’s properties in London and Palm Beach.
“Everything that Mr. Staley did was in the scope of his employment and thus imputed to JPMorgan,” Liu argued.
Earlier this week, attorneys for Epstein survivors accused Staley of “participating” in Epstein’s crimes. That hearing referenced unspecified allegations that one Jane Doe survivor made against Staley during a deposition.
The deposition came up again on Thursday, as JPMorgan’s lawyer John Butts suggested it’s why the bank came down hard on Staley.
“What happened at that deposition fundamentally changed things,” Butts said.
The Virgin Island’s lawsuit alleges that JPMorgan violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking in persons; the Criminally Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, the territory’s analogue of federal anti-racketeering law; violating the Bank Secrecy Act; and consumer fraud.
Judge Rakoff set down a brisk roadmap for trial. The survivors’ lawsuit against Deutsche Bank, which did business with Epstein after JPMorgan, has been set for Aug. 8.
JPMorgan Chase will face off against the Epstein survivors and the Virgin Islands government at trial on Oct. 23. Rakoff moved the latter trial date in light of JPMorgan’s lawsuit against Staley.
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