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‘This was a quid pro quo’: Jeffrey Epstein survivors urge judge to green light suits against big banks, explicitly accuse Jes Staley

Jeffrey Epstein stands in front of his Gulfstream

The government entered this photograph of Jeffrey Epstein standing in front of his Gulfstream airplane into evidence during his ex-pilot’s testimony during the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell. (Photo via DOJ)

Jeffrey Epstein survivors’ attorneys leveled their most direct allegations yet against financier Jes Staley, accusing the ex-JPMorgan Chase senior executive turned Barclays CEO of “participating” in the abuse.

“There is no doubt that there was sex trafficking,” said David Boies, a prominent attorney for Epstein victims at a hearing on Monday.

“There is no doubt that what JPMorgan did made that possible,” Boies added.

Late last week, JPMorgan sued Staley — who once led its asset management and investment banking businesses — claiming that the executive “concealed his personal activities” with Epstein. Boies accused Staley on Monday of sexually abusing an Epstein victim.

If those allegations are true, JPMorgan’s lawyer Felicia Ellsworth said, they are “abhorrent” — but she said that they fall short of sex trafficking.

“It is sexual assault,” she said, referring to what Staley stands accused of doing. Staley has not faced any criminal charges in connection with the case.

The distinction is crucial because Epstein survivors accused the bank of violating the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking in persons. The law punishes anyone who “benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value” from a commercial sex act stemming from “force, fraud, coercion.”

Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who has been presiding over at least three active and one settled case about Epstein’s finances, read the text of that statute aloud in court. He suggested that the statute appears to fit the bill for the allegations of the lawsuit.

The roughly 90-minute hearing ended without a ruling, which Rakoff said he expects to issue before the end of the month.

Boies and his co-counsel Sigrid McCawley hope to persuade a federal judge to greenlight their lawsuits accusing JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank of “complicity” with Epstein. The banks handled Epstein’s finances at different times in the late pedophile’s life, including periods after Epstein’s Florida prosecution.

JPMorgan and Deutsche asked the judge to dismiss the survivors’ lawsuits.

In Deutsche’s case, the bank points to a settlement agreement one of the survivors inked with Epstein’s estate.

The German lender’s attorney James P. Dowden invoked the settlement’s broad release in court and also argued that simply alleging that Deutsche ignored red flags would not have been enough. The victims would have to show more direct involvement.

McCawley alleged that Deutsche specifically facilitated trafficking.

“This was a quid pro quo,” she declared. “The bank was very, very incentivized to make sure this trafficking continued.”

In addition to the lawsuit filed by Epstein victims against the banks, the U.S. Virgin Islands government filed another against JPMorgan specifically. Unsealed allegations from that lawsuit place Staley inside Epstein’s private island at the time Epstein himself was incarcerated for soliciting a minor for prostitution.

“So when all hell breaks lo[o]se, and the world is crumbling, I will come here, and be at peace,” Staley wrote Epstein on Nov. 1, 2009, during the time of Epstein’s sentence. “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 lawsuit gave the public insight into the 1,200 messages Staley and Epstein sent each other over the years, including one asking Epstein to “Say hi Snow White.”

“[W]hat character would you like next?” Epstein allegedly responded.

Staley answered “Beauty and the Beast,” and Epstein replied: “well one side is available,” the lawsuit states.

Staley’s attorney did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

In late January, Rakoff also signed off on a $26 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank shareholders who claimed the German lender turned a blind eye to the activities of Epstein and Russian oligarchs.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."