JPMorgan Chase is facing a lawsuit from the US Virgin Islands over its alleged involvement with convicted sex offender Jeffery Epstein. According to lawyers representing the Virgin Islands, the bank handled over $1 billion of Epstein’s money over a span of 16 years, despite calls to sever ties with him. The transactions occurred between 1998 and 2013, as revealed in a hearing held in Manhattan.
The lawsuit, brought forth by the US Virgin Islands where Epstein’s private island is located, claims that JPMorgan’s top executives joked about Epstein and his affinity for young girls, even as compliance staffers repeatedly labeled his account as “high risk” and advised cutting ties with him. The government of the Virgin Islands argues that if the bank had reported suspicious transactions on Epstein’s account, they could have been tipped off to his crimes earlier. One such transaction included a payment of $600,000 to transport a 14-year-old girl from Europe to the US, referred to by JPMorgan executives as his “assistant or young lady he brought over from Prague (or some place like that).”
This hearing marked the first time that the public became aware of the magnitude of JPMorgan’s involvement with Epstein. Attorney Mimi Liu asserted that the bank acted as a “full service bank for Epstein’s sex trafficking.” The Virgin Islands is seeking a minimum of $190 million in damages from JPMorgan.
However, JPMorgan denies any complicity in sheltering Epstein. The bank’s lawyers argue that several employees reported suspicious transactions from Epstein’s account to the US Treasury Department as early as 2002 and requested an investigation into his conduct. They further accuse the Virgin Islands of ignoring the alleged sex crimes that occurred on Epstein’s island.
Earlier this year, JPMorgan claimed to have severed ties with Epstein in 2013. But according to Liu, the bank processed over $1.1 million in payments from Epstein to “girls or women” after that date.
Jeffery Epstein was arrested in 2019 on charges of trafficking underage girls. However, he died in his Manhattan jail cell before facing trial, with his death officially ruled as a suicide. Epstein’s associations with powerful figures such as former US President Bill Clinton, current CIA Director William Burns, and Britain’s Prince Andrew have sparked skepticism about the circumstances of his death.
In a separate lawsuit related to Epstein, JPMorgan settled in June by paying $290 million to a group of women who claimed they were sexually abused by Epstein while he was a client of the bank.
This ongoing legal battle highlights the responsibility of financial institutions in reporting suspicious transactions and severing ties with individuals involved in criminal activities. The outcome of the lawsuit will likely have significant consequences for JPMorgan and may serve as a precedent for similar cases involving other financial institutions.