scorecardJP Morgan 'pulled the levers' of Jeffrey Epstein's sex-trafficking operation, US Virgin Islands says in new lawsuit
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JP Morgan 'pulled the levers' of Jeffrey Epstein's sex-trafficking operation, US Virgin Islands says in new lawsuit

Jacob Shamsian   

JP Morgan 'pulled the levers' of Jeffrey Epstein's sex-trafficking operation, US Virgin Islands says in new lawsuit
LifeInternational3 min read
Jeffrey Epstein in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2004.    Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images
  • A new lawsuit alleges JP Morgan facilitated Jeffrey Epstein's sex-trafficking scheme.
  • The US Virgin Islands Attorney General also claims the bank covered up its involvement.

A new lawsuit from the US Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George accuses JP Morgan Chase of facilitating Jeffrey Epstein's sex-trafficking scheme and covering it up.

"Human trafficking," the lawsuit alleges, was the "principal business" of Epstein's accounts at the bank, but the bank "turned a blind eye" for more than a decade "because of the deals and clients that Epstein brought and promised to bring to the bank."

Epstein died in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. His death unleashed a flood of litigation over the $630 million fortune he left behind and a compensation fund for more than 200 people who claimed to be his victims. His arrest also led to a widespread reckoning for his powerful friends and associates — including Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, Leslie Wexner, and Elon Musk — as well as organizations like Harvard University, JP Morgan, and Deutsche Bank.

Earlier this year, the US Virgin islands settled a separate lawsuit, first brought in 2020, with Epstein's estate and its executors. The estate was required to pay $105 million, in addition to half of the proceeds from the sale of Little St. James, Epstein's island where accusers say they were raped and trafficked.

The new lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, emerged from the same investigation and alleges JP Morgan "knowingly facilitated, sustained, and concealed the human trafficking network operated by Jeffrey Epstein" and "financially benefitted from this participation."

"JP Morgan knowingly, negligently, and unlawfully provided and pulled the levers through which recruiters and victims were paid and was indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise," the lawsuit says.

One of Epstein's accounts with JP Morgan, named Southern Trust, didn't perform the "cutting edge consulting services" Epstein claimed. In reality, the lawsuit alleges, it was "a conduit for payment to foreign women, credit cards, airplanes, and other instrumentalities."

The bank and its employees knew they were facilitating Epstein's sexual abuse and sex-trafficking conspiracy to coerce "young women and underage girls to engage in commercial sex acts," according to the lawsuit.

jeffrey epstein island
Jeffrey Epstein's island of Little St. James in the US Virgin Islands.      US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

But, according to the suit, the bank concealed its conduct by failing to comply with "red flag" laws. The section of the lawsuit that details how JP Morgan allegedly turned a blind eye to Epstein's conduct is heavily redacted.

"JP Morgan ignored numerous red flags and failed to comply with federal banking regulations until years later after JP Morgan was no longer benefiting from Epstein's business," the lawsuit says.

A representative for JP Morgan declined to comment.

The decisions to keep Epstein as a client, and to move his money around, were "advocated and approved at the senior levels of JP Morgan," including by a former chief executive of its asset management division who had an "inappropriate relationship with Epstein."

Details related to that official, Jes Staley, were redacted from the lawsuit. According to an investigation by British regulators, Staley and Epstein exchanged over 1,200 emails between 2008 and 2012. Staley stepped down from his position as CEO of Barclays in 2021 as he disputed how the regulators characterized his relationship with Epstein.

In addition to the US Virgin Islands, an anonymous "Jane Doe" filed lawsuits against JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank in November, alleging the financial institutions benefitted from Epstein's sex-trafficking operation.

Epstein's associate Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty in December 2021 of trafficking girls for sex with Epstein and sexually abusing them herself.

At her criminal trial in Manhattan, a JP Morgan official presented documents showing that Epstein gave Maxwell at least $30.7 million between 1999 and 2007.

Another witness who testified in Maxwell's trial said that one of Epstein's jets — which prosecutors said he used to traffic women for sex — was owned by a company called Hyperion Air.

That same company, Hyperion Air, is identified by the US Virgin Islands Attorney General as one of Epstein's accounts with JP Morgan.