Embracing JPMorgan’s attempt to deflect blame onto its former top executive Jes Staley, the Virgin Islands government told a judge on Thursday that the bank’s role in the sex trafficking of Jeffrey Epstein went straight to the top.
“If Mr. Staley is a rogue employee, why isn’t Jamie Dimon?” private government lawyer Mimi Liu thundered, urging a judge to move their trial forward.
In August 2008, an internal email from JPMorgan discussed the flow of Epstein’s assets, with a reference to the “pending Dimon review”.
“It’s Jamie Dimon,” said Liu, an attorney at Motley Rice.
After that message, she noted, Epstein remained a client for five more years. The review took place two years after Epstein was arrested in Florida. The remarks provide some insight into why the Virgin Islands issued a subpoena to Dimon earlier this year — and why Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff approved it.
JPMorgan, the world’s largest bank by market capitalization, was Epstein’s bank of choice between 1998 and 2013, well after Epstein was prosecuted in Florida for solicitation of prostitution with a minor.
That relationship has come under the spotlight after Epstein survivors, and the Virgin Islands sued JPMorgan Chase late last year, claiming it “facilitated, supported and covered up” Epstein’s abuse.
Earlier this month, JPMorgan launched a counteroffensive against their former chief executive James Edward “Jes” Staley, claiming he was “hiding his personal activities” with Epstein.
The Virgin Islands, however, claims their knowledge of Staley’s actions comes from internal JPMorgan files.
“These are the JPMorgan documents,” Liu said. “Everything we knew, JPMorgan knew.”
During his time at JPMorgan, Staley cultivated deep personal and business ties with Epstein at a time when the executive led the bank’s asset management and investment division. Staley exchanged more than 1,200 messages with Epstein. He sent one such message from Epstein’s private island, “Little St. Jeff’s,” while his client was in a Florida jail. (That was Epstein’s nickname for the property, riffing off Little St. James.) In their lawsuit, the Virgin Islands provided insights into those exchanges taken from the bank’s internal files.
“So when all hell breaks lo[o]me, and the world is falling apart, I will come here and be at peace,” Staley wrote to Epstein from the Virgin Islands on November 1, 2009, while Epstein was incarcerated. “Right now, I’m in the spa with a glass of white wine. It’s an amazing place. Really great. Next time we will be here together. I owe you a lot. And I deeply appreciate our friendship. I have few that deep.
It was just one of Staley’s visits to Epstein’s island.
The Virgin Islands claims to have traced payments from Epstein’s accounts at JPMorgan to women with Eastern European surnames, timed near Staley’s visits to the sex offender’s properties in London and Palm Beach.
“Everything Mr. Staley did was within the scope of his employment and therefore imputed to JPMorgan,” Liu explained.
Earlier this week, lawyers for Epstein survivors accused Staley of “participating” in Epstein’s crimes. This hearing referred to unspecified allegations that a survivor of Jane Doe had made against Staley during a deposition.
The deposition came up again on Thursday, as JPMorgan attorney John Butts said it was the reason the bank harshly criticized Staley.
“What happened in that deposition fundamentally changed things,” Butts said.
The Virgin Islands lawsuit alleges that JPMorgan violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the first comprehensive federal law to combat human trafficking; the Criminally Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, the territory’s analog of the federal anti-racketeering law; breach of bank secrecy law; and consumer fraud.
Judge Rakoff laid out a quick roadmap for the trial. The survivors’ trial against Deutsche Bank, which did business with Epstein after JPMorgan, has been set for August 8.
JPMorgan Chase will face off against Epstein survivors and the Virgin Islands government in the October 23 trial. Rakoff moved the latest trial date in light of JPMorgan’s lawsuit against Staley.
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