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JPMorgan will pay $75 million to settle US Virgin Islands Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking claims

Jacob Shamsian   

JPMorgan will pay $75 million to settle US Virgin Islands Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking claims
  • JPMorgan is paying $75 million to settle a lawsuit from the US Virgin Islands over links with Jeffrey Epstein.
  • It also settled litigation with Jes Staley, the former executive who was close with the pedophile.

JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay $75 million to settle a civil lawsuit from the US Virgin Islands over claims that it facilitated Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking operation.

The financial institution said in a statement Tuesday that it would donate $30 million to charitable organizations in the US Virgin Islands that address "social ills, including fighting human trafficking and other sex crimes" and help their survivors. Another $25 million will go toward building up law enforcement on the island, according to the statement.

As part of the settlement announced Tuesday, the bank is also paying an additional $20 million in fees for the US Virgin Islands' attorneys, from the firm Motley Rice LLC.

The funds come on top of the $290 million JPMorgan Chase has already agreed to settle a separate class-action lawsuit brought by Epstein victims, to fund a compensation program.

According to the statement, JPMorgan has also settled legal claims with Jes Staley, the former CEO of Barclays who stepped down in 2021 following revelations about his relationship with Epstein. During an earlier time as a JPMorgan executive, Staley kept close ties with Epstein, exchanging over 1,000 emails, including during a period when Epstein was incarcerated for soliciting sex with a minor.

JPMorgan had sued Staley, alleging he was solely responsible for any liability from the US Virgin Islands' lawsuit — a claim Staley had denied.

The settlement arrived hours before lawyers for Staley and JPMorgan were scheduled to argue in a Manhattan federal court over the scope of a trial, which a judge set for October. The terms of the settlement with Staley were not disclosed.

The US Virgin Islands had claimed that JPMorgan "pulled the levers" of Epstein's sex-trafficking operation by running his bank accounts and turning a blind eye to payments that should have raised alarms within the institution. At least 20 of his victims were paid $1 million through his accounts managed by JPMorgan, the government alleged.

In pretrial court filings, JPMorgan claimed the US Virgin Islands government was essentially guilty of the same practices. Local politicians, it claimed, had received donations from Epstein and allowed the pedophile to run rampant as law enforcement turned away from red flags. Epstein owned two islands in the US Virgin Islands, which were sold by his estate earlier this year to billionaire Stephen Deckoff for $60 million.

The lawsuits caused turmoil in the US Virgin Islands when they were filed last December. Shortly after they were fired, the territory's governor ousted Denise George, the previous attorney general, who brought the JPMorgan case.

JPMorgan is still pointing fingers at the US Virgin Islands

In a statement, US Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel M. Smith said he was looking forward to "building a new relationship with JPMorgan." The bank would inform law enforcement when customers are involved in human trafficking and terminate their accounts, he said.

"This settlement is an historic victory for survivors and for state enforcement, and it should sound the alarm on Wall Street about banks' responsibilities under the law to detect and prevent human trafficking," Smith said. "Our Department of Justice tirelessly pursued this enforcement action to make it substantially harder for traffickers to finance their crimes in the future, and we are confident this settlement will help achieve that goal."

In a separate statement in response, JPMorgan spokesperson Patricia Wexler said the bank had not introduced any new policies. It was "committed to previous and ongoing efforts to fight human trafficking" through its anti-money laundering program.

"There are no new commitments. Our controls, compliance, risk, and other functions are always improving, and we are continually investing to become even better," Wexler said. "We have always worked closely with law enforcement to help combat human trafficking, and we will continue to look for ways to invest in advancing this important mission."

The additional funds from JPMorgan, Wexler said, will help the US Virgin Islands improve its own enforcement practices, she said.

"We are pleased that the USVI will use settlement proceeds to enhance the infrastructure and capabilities of their law enforcement to prevent and combat human trafficking and other crimes in their territories," she said.

Epstein killed himself in jail while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in 2019. His acquaintance Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of trafficking girls to him for sex in 2021 and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Earlier this year, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $75 million to settle a similar class action lawsuit brought by Epstein's victims, also alleging the financial institution facilitated his sex trafficking. Epstein's estate, following the financier's death, paid out $125 million to his victims.

This story has been updated.

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