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HomeBusinessJPMorgan agrees to $75 million settlement over ties to Jeffrey Epstein

JPMorgan agrees to $75 million settlement over ties to Jeffrey Epstein

JPMorgan Chase will pay $75 million to settle allegations that it enabled Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation, ending a legal spectacle that ensnared some of Wall Street’s most powerful bankers.

The U.S. Virgin Islands alleged that JPMorgan directly supported Epstein’s crimes by providing the cash and stamp of legitimacy that allowed him to abuse women and girls for years. JPMorgan admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement announced Tuesday, but a stream of disclosures over the past few months showed the depths of the bank’s relationship with Epstein and delved into top executives’ failure to fire him after concerns were raised.

Plaintiffs cheered the settlement, though the amount is less than half of the $190 million the Virgin Islands had been seeking. The banking giant made $128.7 billion in revenue last year.

Ariel Smith, attorney general for the Virgin Islands, called the settlement a “historic” win.

It should sound the alarm on Wall Street about banks’ responsibilities under the law to detect and prevent human trafficking,” Smith said in a statement.

A JPMorgan spokeswoman said $30 million will go to charities, $25 million to government and law enforcement efforts to prevent human trafficking, and $20 million for legal fees. It also sets aside $10 million to support mental health services for Epstein’s survivors, according to the plaintiffs.

JPMorgan kept Epstein as client for years after warnings, deposition shows

Smith said JPMorgan agreed to “implement and maintain meaningful anti-trafficking measures,” which includes a commitment to elevate and report suspicious activity in the future.

But JPMorgan spokeswoman Patricia Wexler insisted the bank had already made those commitments. “We have always worked closely with law enforcement to help combat human trafficking, and we will continue to look for ways to invest in advancing this important mission,” she said in a statement. The bank has said it deeply regrets having had any association with Epstein.

The settlement comes just one month before the two sides were set to go to trial in Manhattan, and on the heels of a $290 million settlement in a parallel case brought by Epstein’s victims. Deutsche Bank, which did business with Epstein after JPMorgan officially ended its relationship with him, agreed to a separate $75 million payout.

The agreement follows months of discovery in which redacted court filings and depositions revealed that bank executives were informed of suspicious activity as early as 2006 but did not fire Epstein as a client until 2013. Several top executives, including chief executive Jamie Dimon, wealth management leader Mary Erdoes and others, sat for depositions in which they blamed one another for keeping him as a client.

Epstein died in a jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges, a death that a New York medical examiner ruled a suicide.

Prosecutors alleged he had recruited and trafficked women and girls at his mansion in New York and at a private island in the Virgin Islands. He held dozens of accounts at JPMorgan, becoming an important source of revenue and clients for the bank’s growing private wealth division. A government filing alleged that some of his accounts had been opened for people who were said to be recruiters, accomplices or victims of Epstein’s abuse.

The litigation swept up an array of well-known wealthy individuals who had varying degrees of contact with Epstein. Tesla founder Elon Musk received a subpoena, as well as Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Documents revealed in court detail the disgraced financier’s efforts to recruit Microsoft founder Bill Gates for a charitable fund, an effort that never came to fruition.

Epstein was supported within JPMorgan by James Edward “Jes” Staley, then an executive at the bank, who described himself as a “profound” friend to Epstein, according to court documents.

JPMorgan kept ties to Epstein until a few months before his death, court filings says

A different JPMorgan executive said the bank’s decision to eventually fire Epstein as a client in 2013 was made possible by Staley’s departure from the company, according to a deposition. But court documents also show that the banker handling Epstein’s accounts was authorized to maintain the relationship after 2013 as a “potential source of referrals” and continued to communicate with him until a few months before his death.

Staley was later sued by the bank, though it was settled under undisclosed terms.

Throughout the litigation JPMorgan has denied wrongdoing, while directing attention to the Virgin Islands’ failure to crack down on Epstein’s operations within its borders. The bank sought to cast the territory’s lawsuit as an exercise in blame-shifting, arguing that local law enforcement should have scrutinized Epstein more closely.

The bank also lashed out with allegations that Epstein wielded political influence in the Virgin Islands to stay out of trouble. The bank accused Cecile de Jongh, the islands’ former first lady, of working for Epstein for more than a decade alternately as a “compliance person” or “office manager.”

Court documents catalogue hundreds of thousands of dollars that Epstein allegedly paid de Jongh to help with private school tuition and other expenses, while de Jongh seemed to brag in an email that Epstein’s business had “the best relationships with local regulators and departments.”

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