Deutsche Bank claims that a settlement agreement signed by a Jeffrey Epstein survivor insulates them from a lawsuit accusing them of “complicity” with the predator’s sex trafficking crimes.
Ever since Epstein’s death, his accused accomplices, associates and enablers frequently invoked agreements that he signed while he was alive as releasing them from liability. Convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell pointed to the expansive and controversial non-prosecution agreement Epstein reached with federal prosecutors in 2008, which purported to shield any possible co-conspirator.
That effort failed after a federal judge found that those prosecutors in Florida did not speak for the Southern District of New York.
In 2009, Epstein inked a $500,000 deal to resolve a lawsuit with one of his most visible victims Virginia Giuffre, releasing “Other Potential Defendants” from liability. Prince Andrew had claimed that the document explicitly shielded “royalty,” but a federal judge refused to dismiss the case on those grounds. The lawsuit later settled on undisclosed terms, reported to be the equivalent of $16 million.
Now add the German lender to the pantheon of accused Epstein enablers pointing to such deals to avoid legal trouble.
“As consideration for a [redacted] payment of [redacted] from the Epstein Estate, Plaintiff knowingly and with the advice of counsel agreed to a ‘broad release’ of any and all claims, including relating to ‘acts of sexual abuse or sex trafficking’ by Epstein, against not only Epstein and his Estate, but also against a wide array of other individuals and entities, including any entity that was ever ‘engaged by’ or ‘worked in any capacity for’ Epstein,” Deutsche’s memo in support of a motion to dismiss states.
The lawsuit against Deutsche was filed anonymously, and it remains unclear from the redacted document which victim’s settlement agreement the bank is citing.
“Under these plain terms (and several others), the Release clearly covers Plaintiff’s claims against the Bank, which are predicated entirely on allegations that Epstein engaged the Bank to provide banking services (e.g., custodial services)—and on conclusory allegations that this ‘work’ included ‘aid[ing] in the operation of [Epstein’s] sex trafficking venture,'” the memo continues.
Sigrid McCawley, an attorney for the survivors, slammed the maneuver as a bid to duck responsibility.
“Rather than trying to hide behind a release that was never intended to protect Deutsche Bank, it should be focused on looking critically at its own failures that resulted in significant harm to countless young women and girls trapped in Jeffrey Epstein’s international sex trafficking ring,” McCawley said in a statement.
Late last month on Jan. 31, Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff gave the green light to a $26 million settlement between Deutsche and its shareholders to resolve a lawsuit about the bank’s links to Epstein and Russian oligarchs. That case did not involve Epstein survivors, but rather the bank’s investors were concerned about how the reputational harm and other liabilities would affect Deutsche’s stock value.
Rakoff, a vocal critic of Wall Street after the 2008 financial crisis, refused to dismiss that lawsuit before the case was settled.
The Epstein survivors, suing in a proposed class action, allege violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and federal anti-racketeering law.
Deutsche insists that their lawsuit “does not plausibly allege that the Bank committed any predicate offense or directed a criminal enterprise,” which would be necessary for a RICO case.
In a separate lawsuit, the victims also accused JPMorgan Chase of complicity with Epstein. The U.S. Virgin Islands followed suit, and the territory’s then-attorney general lost her job days later. Those cases, however, remain pending.
Chase, the world’s largest bank, recently tried to dismiss the Virgin Islands suit, claiming the territory tried to add to the $100 million bounty of a settlement it reached with Epstein’s estate. That megabank characterized the lawsuit as a “meritless” reach into “deeper pockets.”
The victims’ attorney David Boies expressed disappointment in the bank’s position.
“We believe the facts set forth in our complaints, in the related complaint of the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands, and in regulatory proceedings to which the banks have been parties, speak for themselves,” he wrote in a statement. “We are disappointed in the banks’ continuing effort to avoid taking responsibility for their role in the expansion and perpetuation of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.”
Read Deutsche’s memo here.
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