Judge Says Lawsuits Can Continue Over JPMorgan’s Epstein Ties

Handout via Reuters
Handout via Reuters

A Manhattan federal judge has ruled that lawsuits against JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank—which accuse the financial giants of benefiting from Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring—can move forward.

Two victims of Epstein sued the banks last year under the pseudonym Jane Doe, arguing the financial institutions kept Epstein as a client, and enabled his abuse of young women, because he generated millions for their businesses. Soon after, the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands filed a similar complaint against JPMorgan.

On Monday, in a blow to the investment banks, U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled that he would only dismiss parts of the trio of related lawsuits. He terminated the victims’ claims alleging the banks participated in, and aided and abetted, Epstein’s trafficking venture. He also dismissed counts alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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But Rakoff allowed claims that JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank were a “knowing beneficiary” of Epstein’s scheme to proceed. Among the other counts Rakoff declined to dismiss from Jane Does’ suits were: obstruction of the enforcement of the Trafficking Victim Protection Act; negligent failure to exercise reasonable care to prevent physical harm; and negligent failure to exercise reasonable care as a banking institution providing non-routine banking.

As for the Virgin Islands’ suit against JPMorgan, Rakoff dismissed three of the four counts, which means the Caribbean territory’s only remaining cause of action is that the bank “knowingly benefited from participating in a sex-trafficking venture.”

Following Rakoff’s ruling, Carol Thomas-Jacobs, the acting attorney general for the USVI, said the government looked forward to “ultimately proving our case in court.”

“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 said 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.”

Brad Edwards, who represents the Jane Does and other victims of Epstein, called Rakoff’s ruling “a monumental victory for the hundreds of survivors of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking scheme and survivors of sexual abuse in general” and said they “can rest easier knowing no individual or institution is above accountability.”

“As we have alleged, Epstein’s sex trafficking operation was impossible without the assistance of JPMorgan Chase, and later Deutsche Bank,” Edwards added, “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.”

The litigation is also roping in high-profile bank executives, including Epstein’s onetime friend Jes Staley, who is accused of participating in Epstein’s sex ring and whose creepy emails with the perverted financier were referenced in court papers. Staley has previously denied any wrongdoing in connection to Epstein and in 2020, lamented ever having a “professional relationship” with him.

“The relationship was maintained during my time at JPMorgan but as I left JPMorgan the relationship tapered off quite significantly,” Staley told reporters at the time. “Obviously I thought I knew him well and I didn’t. For sure, with hindsight with what we know now, I deeply regret having any relationship with Jeffrey.”

This month, JPMorgan filed a complaint against Staley, its former chief executive, arguing he should be liable for damages should Jane Doe win her case.

The bank, in its court filing, even suggested Staley had sexually abused Jane Doe.

“Doe alleges that ‘one of Epstein’s friends used aggressive force in his sexual assault of her and informed Jane Doe 1 that he had Epstein’s permission to do what he wanted to her,’” lawyers for JPMorgan pointed out in their complaint.

“Upon information and belief, Staley is this person, who she described as a ‘powerful financial executive’ she had historically been afraid to identify.”

Meanwhile, last week, an attorney for the USVI argued in court that JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was also aware of Epstein’s trafficking. (Earlier this month, Rakoff ruled the bank must also hand over documents related to Dimon as part of the litigation.)

“Jamie Dimon knew in 2008 that his billionaire client was a sex trafficker,” Mimi Liu, an attorney for the Virgin Islands, told Rakoff. She was referring to the year that Epstein was charged with soliciting minors in Palm Beach, Florida.

Liu added that “Staley knew, Dimon knew, JPMorgan Chase knew” about Epstein’s abuse of women and girls, according to CNBC.

“They broke every rule to facilitate his sex trafficking in exchange for Epstein’s wealth, connections, and referrals,” the lawyer said.

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