Jeffrey Epstein and his Virgin Islands home (Photos via DOJ)

Jeffrey Epstein survivors and the Virgin Island government can pursue claims that JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank knowingly benefited from participating in a sex trafficking venture.

Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, a sharp critic of Wall Street malfeasance, did not lay out his reasoning in a threadbare 4-page order. He indicated that he will release a fuller opinion “in due course.”

The ruling advances elements of all three pending Epstein-related lawsuits against JPMorgan and Deutsche. Epstein victims anonymized as Jane Doe filed separate lawsuits against each bank, and the Virgin Islands separately sued JPMorgan only. The mixed ruling gives the green light only to certain claims while dismissing others.

A surviving count in all three of the lawsuits accuses the institutions of knowingly benefiting from Epstein’s sex trafficking venture.

U.S. Virgin Islands Acting Attorney General Carol Thomas-Jacobs celebrated the decision.

“We are pleased that the U.S. Virgin Islands will continue to work alongside survivors to hold JPMorgan Chase accountable for enabling Jeffrey Epstein’s heinous sex-trafficking venture,” Thomas-Jacobs wrote in a statement. “This case is critically important to ensuring that financial institutions do their jobs, with the detailed, real-time information available to them, as a first line of defense in identifying and reporting potential human trafficking, as the law expects. We look forward to uncovering additional facts regarding the depth and reach of JPMorgan’s conduct in the discovery process and ultimately proving our case in court.”

Attorney Bradley Edwards, a prominent advocate for Epstein survivors, hailed what he called a “monumental victory” for hundreds of victims.

“As we have alleged, Epstein’s sex trafficking operation was impossible without the assistance of JPMorgan Chase, and later Deutsche Bank, and we assure the public that we will leave no stone unturned in our quest for justice for the many victims who deserved better from one of America’s largest financial institutions,” added Edwards, a partner at Edwards Pottinger partner.

Deutsche, which banked with Epstein between 2013 and 2018, declined to comment.

The ruling follows bombshell oral arguments last week, where an attorney for the Virgin Islands accused JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon of knowing Epstein was a sex trafficker as far back as 2008.

That was the year Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor.

Judge Rakoff also allowed the survivors to try to prove that JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank obstructed enforcement of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, negligently failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent physical harm, and negligently failed to exercise reasonable care as a banking institution providing non-routine banking.

The order ratchets up scrutiny on the financial institutions, and its executives, who stand accused in civil court of “complicity” in Epstein’s sex trafficking empire. Epstein’s scheme has been likened to a Pyramid scheme, in which victims would be lured in with hush money for massages that escalated into sexual abuse. Those victims, in turn, would be offered additional payments to find other victims and buy their silence, their attorneys say.

To evade scrutiny for these payments, their attorneys argue that financial institutions had to turn the other way, and the arrangement was allegedly mutually beneficial.

“This was a quid pro quo,” the victims’ lawyer Sigrid McCawley alleged in a recent hearing.

The litigation has embarrassed powerful executives, including former Barclays CEO Jes Staley. The Virgin Islands government unsealed some of the 1,200 emails that Staley exchanged with Epstein, including one Staley sent from Epstein’s Virgin Islands home of Little St. James in autumn 2009.

“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. “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.”

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Epstein was still incarcerated at the time, at the house arrest portion of his 18-month sentence for soliciting a minor.

JPMorgan, whose banking relationship with Epstein lasted from 1998 to 2013, did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Read the ruling here.