The Attorney General’s office of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) has filed a First Amended Complaint against JPMorgan Chase that has less redactions than an earlier version. The complaint makes devastating and detailed charges. It charges that the bank sat on a pile of evidence that Jeffrey Epstein was running a child sex trafficking ring as it continued to keep him as a client; accept his lucrative referrals of wealthy clients; and provided him with large sums of cash and wire transfers to pay off victims – one of whom was a “14-year old sex slave.”
Attorneys for the bank are now resisting allowing Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon from being deposed under oath in the matter as to what he knew and when he knew it.
The case is USVI v JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. (22-cv-10904) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. As is becoming a regular occurrence when there is a politically sensitive case involving JPMorgan Chase, Judge Jed Rakoff is the presiding judge. (See Judge Rakoff Signs a Dangerous Protective Order in Whistleblower Case Against 5-Count Felon JPMorgan Chase.)
The lawsuit includes the following charges against JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States with more than 5,000 local branches serving mom and pop accounts:
“JP Morgan did business with Jeffrey Epstein from as early as 1998 to 2013. In that time, JP Morgan serviced approximately fifty-five Epstein-related accounts collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“…at least 20 individuals paid through JP Morgan accounts were victims of trafficking and sexual assault in Little St. James, New York, and/or other Epstein properties. These women were trafficked and abused during different intervals between at least 2003 and July 2019, when Epstein was arrested and jailed, and these women received payments, typically multiple payments, between 2003 and 2013 in excess of $1 million collectively. Epstein also withdrew more than $775,000 in cash over that time frame from JP Morgan accounts, especially significant as Epstein was known to pay for ‘massages,’ or sexual encounters, in cash. Financial information also reflects payments drawn from JP Morgan accounts of nearly $1.5 million to known recruiters, including to the MC2 modeling agency, and another $150,000 to a private investigative firm.”
“In 2006, JP Morgan’s Global Corporate Security Division found ‘[s]everal newspaper articles . . . that detail the indictment of Jeffrey Epstein in Florida on felony charges of soliciting underage prostitutes.’ At that time, JP Morgan decided to continue doing business with Epstein but concluded his account ‘should be classified as high risk’ and require special approval.”
“In January 2011, JP Morgan’s AML [Anti Money Laundering] compliance director requested re-approval for the bank’s relationship with Epstein from JP Morgan’s then-General Counsel ‘in light of the new allegations of human trafficking . . .’ Another JP Morgan employee responded: ‘I thought we did that in approving a $50 million new line of credit last month?’ ”
“In JP Morgan’s January 2011 review of Epstein’s accounts, the bank concluded there were ‘no material updates’ but noted: ‘A few news stories during 2010 connects Jeffrey Epstein to human trafficking. The coverage team . . . all met to discuss the situation and agreed to enhance monitoring and document a discussion with the client. Jes Staley discussed the topic with Jeffrey Epstein who replied there was no truth to the allegations, no evidence and was not expecting any problems…”
“In March 2011, JP Morgan’s Global Corporate Security Division reported:
“Numerous articles detail various law enforcement agencies investigating Jeffrey Epstein for allegedly participating, directly or indirectly, in child trafficking and molesting underage girls. Jeffrey Epstein has settled a dozen civil lawsuits out of court from his victims regarding solicitation for an undisclosed amount.”
“JP Morgan’s banking relationship with Epstein was known at the highest levels of the bank. For instance, an August 2008 internal email states, ‘I would count Epstein’s assets as a probable outflow for ’08 ($120mm or so?) as I can’t imagine it will stay (pending Dimon review).’ ”
Let’s pause right here for a moment. JPMorgan Chase has a history of employing some of the most sophisticated sleuths in the country, including people with prior employment at the CIA, FBI and Secret Service. To believe that JPMorgan Chase did not know what Epstein was all about by 2011 is to believe in the tooth fairy.
In July 2006, the Palm Beach, Florida Police Chief, Michael Reiter, had handed a deeply investigated case over to the FBI according to the courageous reporting of Julie K. Brown in the Miami Herald in November of 2018. According to Brown, by November 2006, “The FBI begins interviewing potential witnesses and victims from Florida, New York and New Mexico.” It took just eight months of FBI interviews for the U.S. Attorney’s office to have a 53-page Federal indictment ready to file against Epstein involving sexual assaults against multiple underage girls. But the indictment was never filed. (You can read the sordid details of how the case was corrupted by the leading U.S. Attorney for the Justice Department, Alex Acosta, in the Miami Herald here.)
A deal was worked out by Acosta and Epstein’s high-powered lawyers where federal charges were dropped against Epstein and he was allowed to plead guilty to only Florida state charges: one count of soliciting sex from a minor and one count of soliciting sex from an adult woman. Epstein was able to serve just 13 months in jail in Palm Beach County, where he was given a work release program to sit in a fancy office 12 hours a day and driven there daily by his private chauffeur in his limousine.
The deal was sealed in such a way that it denied his victims knowledge of what went down. In February of 2019, a federal judge ruled that the secrecy of the deal violated the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
Had it not been for the public outrage unleashed as a result of the series of articles in the Miami Herald and its gripping personal video interviews with Epstein’s victims, the Justice Department might never have brought the new case against Epstein in 2019. We say that based on the following: A full two years before the Miami Herald published its seminal series on Epstein, the bestselling author, James Patterson, together with John Connolly and Tim Malloy, released a detailed investigative book on Epstein titled “Filthy Rich” in October of 2016. It covered Epstein’s sexual assaults on young girls and the corrupted process involving the Justice Department that got him off the hook for his serial crimes. Patterson included a July 24, 2006 letter that Palm Beach Police Chief Reiter had sent to the parents of a young girl who had accused Epstein of assaulting her when she was 14. Reiter wrote to the parents:
“I do not feel that justice has been sufficiently served by the indictment that has been issued. Therefore, please know that this matter has been referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine if violations of federal law have occurred. In the event that the FBI should choose to pursue this matter, the Palm Beach Police Department will assist them in their investigation of potential violations of federal law.”
The FBI, the investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, decided to stand down and allow the co-opted deal cooked up by Acosta and Epstein’s attorneys to go forward, which permitted Epstein to continue his sexual assaults on underage girls.
Julie Brown’s seminal book on the Epstein case, Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story, was released in July of 2021. Epstein died in a Manhattan jail on August 10, 2019. His death was ruled a suicide.
The lawsuit filed by the U.S. Virgin Islands contains deeply disturbing new information about a top JPMorgan Chase bank executive’s close personal relationship with Epstein. According to the First Amended Complaint, Jes Staley, the head of JPMorgan’s Private Bank at the time, “exchanged approximately 1,200 emails with Epstein from his JP Morgan email account.” Several of the emails contained photos of young women in seductive poses and others further “suggest that Staley may have been involved in Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation.” For example, the lawsuit reveals the following:
“In July 2010, Staley emailed Epstein saying ‘That was fun. Say hi to Snow White[,]’ to which Epstein responded ‘[W]hat character would you like next?’ and Staley said ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ ”
Staley also visited Epstein while he was serving his jail time in Florida for sex with a minor and made numerous visits to Epstein’s private island in the Virgin Islands.
There were other giant red flags which the bank chose to ignore as it maintained Epstein’s accounts. The complaint reveals the following:
“Between 2003 and 2013, Epstein and/or his associates used Epstein’s accounts to make numerous payments to individual women and related companies. Among the recipients of these payments were numerous women with Eastern European surnames who were publicly and internally identified as Epstein recruiters and/or victims. For example, Epstein paid more than $600,0000 to Jane Doe 1, a woman who—according to news reports contained in JP Morgan’s due diligence reports—Epstein purchased [as a sex slave] at the age of 14. Like other women who received payments from Epstein, Jane Doe 1 listed Epstein’s apartments on 66th Street in New York City as her address, which should have been a red flag to JP Morgan.
“Epstein and/or his associates also made significant cash withdrawals and 95 foreign remittances with no known payee. For example, Hyperion Air, Inc.—the Epstein-controlled company that owned Epstein’s private jet—issued over $547,000 in checks payable to cash purportedly for ‘fuel expenses when traveling to foreign countries.’ Additionally, between January 2012 and June 2013, Hyperion converted more than $120,000 into foreign currency. Many of these cash withdrawals either exceeded the $10,000 reporting threshold or were seemingly structured to avoid triggering the reporting requirement. This is particularly significant since it is well known that Epstein paid his victims in cash.”
According to the lawsuit, none of these giant red flag transactions were reported by the bank to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as required by law, but were characterized internally as “reasonable, normal, and expected for the type of business or industry in which the client engages.”
There are now two books and an award-winning series in the Miami Herald that remove any doubt that the U.S. Department of Justice was corrupted in its initial handling of the Epstein case. The nagging question today is why is the U.S. Virgin Islands bringing these new charges against JPMorgan Chase instead of the U.S. Department of Justice?