JP Morgan Chase has announced a tentative settlement in a legal claim brought by a woman who said that the US banking giant profited from sexual abuse that she and others suffered at the hands of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
“We all now understand that Epstein’s behavior was monstrous, and we believe this settlement is in the best interest of all parties, especially the survivors, who suffered unimaginable abuse at the hands of this man,” JP Morgan said in a statement. “Any association with him was a mistake and we regret it. We would never have continued to do business with him if we believed he was using our bank in any way to help commit heinous crimes.”
The proposed deal could begin to shut down weeks of embarrassing leaks about the extensive relationship that the bank had with Epstein, where the convicted sex offender was a client from 1998 to 2013 – seven years after he was first accused of soliciting a minor.
The lawsuit claims that officials at the bank ignored warning signs about Epstein’s abuse because he was a wealthy client who could introduce wealthy people to its private banking and investment arms.
JPMorgan did not disclose a financial amount related to Monday’s settlement, though a previous agreement in a similar lawsuit against Deutsche Bank was resolved for a reported $70m. According to reports, the number of Epstein victims attached to the JPMorgan action could rise to more than 100.
The pending settlement is one part of a civil action brought against the bank that included the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein maintained a lavish home on a private island that had a long history of welcoming high profile visitors. Monday’s settlement could portend one with the USVI.
“It has taken a long time, too long, but today is a great day for Jeffrey Epstein survivors,” victims attorney David Boies said of Monday’s proposed settlement.
During a deposition two weeks earlier, plaintiffs asked JP Morgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon – Wall Street’s top banker – what he knew of Epstein’s relationship with the bank, which included large monthly cash withdrawals that triggered interest from compliance officers.
Dimon was asked in his deposition if he had ever heard the name Jeffrey Epstein before authorities arrested Epstein, answering: “Not that I recall.” He said he first heard about Epstein “when the story blew wide open”.
Dimon added: “He was arrested, and all the stories came out about all the people he knows. And the reason I remember that is I was surprised that I didn’t know about it before.”
In the 416-page deposition, Dimon said that an email from Epstein’s office that suggested he was scheduled to meet with Epstein and former senior JP Morgan executive James “Jes” Staley at Epstein’s townhouse was inaccurate.
“I have never had an appointment with Jeff Epstein. I’ve never met Jeff Epstein. I never knew Jeff Epstein. I never went to Jeff Epstein’s house. I never had a meal with Jeff Epstein. I have no idea what they’re referring to here,” Dimon said.
JP Morgan denies claims that it profited from Epstein’s sex trafficking and has sued Staley, later the chief executive at Barclays, saying Staley hid Epstein’s crimes to keep Epstein as a client. Staley has denied the claims and is due to sit for a deposition.
The bank also filed a counter-claim against the US Virgin Islands’ government alleging that the sex trafficker maintained a “quid pro quo relationship” with some of the territory’s highest officials over two decades.
Those claims center on Cecile deJongh, wife of former US Virgin Islands’ governor John deJongh, who JP Morgan says facilitated Epstein’s abuse of women and girls by helping him influence local politicians, dodge the territory’s sex offender laws and obtain work and visas for his victims.
But the civil actions against JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank were surrounded by leaks from Epstein’s business and social diaries that included meetings with prominent men after he pleaded guilty to Florida state charges of soliciting prostitution from a minor and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
They included the director of the CIA, Williams Burns, and Kathryn Ruemmler, White House counsel during Barack Obama’s presidency, alongside lesser figures including the left-wing professor and activist Noam Chomsky, billionaire venture capitalist Reid Hoffman and Lawrence Summers, former Harvard president and director of the National Economic Council under Obama.
In addition to the leaks, the lawsuit against JP Morgan threw out a wide net to bring prominent business people to be deposed on what they knew about the bank’s relationship with Epstein. The legal trawl included Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Hyatt Hotels chairperson Thomas Pritzker, American Canadian businessman Mortimer Zuckerman, former CAA talent agent Michael Ovitz and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Edward Helmore in New York
Published: 2023-06-12 12:47:06