Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $75 million to resolve a proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of Jeffrey Epstein survivors who claim the German lender knowingly profited from the predator’s sex trafficking scheme.
“The settlement reached with Deutsche Bank is an important moment for sex trafficking victims because it establishes that those who hold the purse strings are accountable under the law,” attorney Sigrid McCawley, who represents the survivors, said in a statement.
“This settlement signifies real progress for the rights of victims,” she added.
First reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, the deal will resolve one of a flurry of cases against financial institutions that did business with Epstein. Deutsche previously agreed to pay $25 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit over its Epstein ties, and its latest agreement represents the largest payout by a bank over sex-trafficking liabilities, according to a spokesperson for the survivors.
Two lawsuits against JPMorgan Chase, which counted Epstein as a client between 1998 and 2013, remain pending. One was filed by the survivors, and another was brought by the Virgin Islands government.
After JPMorgan severed ties with Epstein, Deutsche took over as his bank of choice, and the survivors’ lawsuit alleged the German lender turned a blind eye to red flags for sex trafficking. Epstein had been a registered sex offender after pleading guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2008, but he remained a JPMorgan client for five more years after that. Few major banks would do business with Epstein after JPMorgan cut ties with him, but Deutsche had lower standards, as a financial institution then known for pursuing “high risk, high reward” clients like Russian oligarchs, the survivors alleged.
When Deutsche took over, the survivors say, Epstein only grew more brazen — and allegedly even arranged “sham marriages” to illegally bring his victims to the United States. These arrangements were facilitated by payments conducted through the bank to a crooked immigration attorney and accounts opened in the victims’ names, according to the lawsuit.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the settlement, but the bank expressed regret about Epstein’s onboarding in 2020, the year after the disgraced financier’s jailhouse death.
“We acknowledge our error of onboarding Epstein in 2013 and the weaknesses in our processes, and have learnt from our mistakes and shortcomings,” Deutsche Bank said at the time.
That year, Deutsche agreed to pay $150 million to New York State regulators at the end of its investigation into its relationship with Epstein and and correspondent banking relationships with Danske Bank Estonia and FBME Bank, which were involved in money laundering scandals tied to Russian oligarchs.
That New York Department of Financial Services probe helped spark the shareholder lawsuit against Deutsche. With the latest settlement, Deutsche’s existing liabilities from its relationship with Epstein appear finally to have been cleared.
JPMorgan’s possible liabilities endure, and the bank will appear in court next Friday, May 26, on the survivors’ motion for class certification. The bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon is slated for his deposition that same day.
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