JPMorgan Chase finds itself embroiled in a legal dispute as the US Virgin Islands reveals shocking details about the bank’s financial dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
In a recent hearing regarding the territory’s lawsuit against the bank, it was disclosed that JPMorgan had processed over $1 billion for Epstein over a span of 16 years.
Mimi Liu, a lawyer representing the US Virgin Islands, stated that JPMorgan had reported these transactions as suspicious to the US Department of the Treasury following Epstein’s suicide in 2019. However, the contents of these disclosures, which are not public, were not revealed by Reuters, and a JPMorgan spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.
Epstein had been a client of JPMorgan from 1998 until 2013 when the bank terminated its relationship with him. At that time, Epstein was facing charges related to sex trafficking, which he had been awaiting trial for until his untimely death.
The US Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned two private islands, is pursuing a lawsuit against JPMorgan for a minimum of $190 million, claiming that the bank ignored warning signs that Epstein was operating a sex trafficking operation due to his substantial financial contributions. JPMorgan vehemently denies having knowledge of Epstein’s illicit activities and points fingers at the territory for maintaining a close association with him.
During the hearing, Liu argued that the staggering $1 billion figure, which had not been previously disclosed, should lead Judge Jed Rakoff to consider whether the bank was complicit in Epstein’s sex trafficking. She asserted that it was inconceivable that JPMorgan remained unaware of its prominent client’s actions, referring to the bank as “a full-service bank for Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking.”
In response, Felicia Ellsworth, a lawyer representing JPMorgan, contested the notion of the judge determining the bank’s knowledge before the trial. She cited testimony from current and former employees who claimed they had no knowledge of Epstein’s sex trafficking. Additionally, Ellsworth emphasized that JPMorgan had reported Epstein’s transactions to the Treasury Department on multiple occasions, dating back to as early as 2002.
Ellsworth also challenged the US Virgin Islands’ accusation of obstructing investigations into Epstein, asserting that the bank had cooperated with federal authorities in their probes into Epstein’s conduct, rather than hindering them.
The trial is set for October 23, 2023, and Judge Rakoff will decide by the end of September whether to address major legal disputes before that date. Notably, in June, Judge Rakoff granted preliminary approval to JPMorgan’s $290 million settlement with women who alleged abuse by Epstein. Deutsche Bank, where Epstein was a client from 2013 to 2018, had previously settled with his accusers for $75 million.