The US Virgin Islands is seeking to expand its lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase & Co, accusing the bank of aiding in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of girls and young women. The territory has added a new obstruction charge and a claim that bank executives joked about the late financier’s behaviour. In a filing in Manhattan federal court, the US Virgin Islands said that Epstein’s behaviour had been “so widely known” at JPMorgan that senior executives “joked about Epstein’s interest in young girls”. The obstruction charge concerns JPMorgan’s alleged effort to thwart enforcement of a US anti-trafficking law by processing large cash withdrawals for Epstein and his associates, with the “purpose” of helping Epstein evade criminal liability.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse of young girls and women on Little Saint James, a private island he owned. The proposed complaint refers to a recent deposition from Mary Erdoes, JPMorgan’s head of asset and wealth management, in heavily redacted form. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon is expected to be deposed in May. Neither Dimon nor Erdoes has been accused of wrongdoing.
JPMorgan is separately suing Jes Staley, its former private banking chief and later Barclays PLC’s chief executive, for concealing what he knew about Epstein. On March 20, US District Judge Jed Rakoff rejected JPMorgan’s bid to dismiss lawsuits by the US Virgin Islands and Epstein’s accusers. He also refused to dismiss a lawsuit by Epstein’s accusers against Deutsche Bank AG, where Epstein was a client from 2013 to 2018.
Epstein died by suicide at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. His former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for aiding in Epstein’s abuses and is appealing her conviction. Among the beneficiaries of Epstein’s largesse was Maxwell, who received more than $23m from 1999 to 2002, the territory said.
JPMorgan has not yet commented on the US Virgin Islands’ latest filing. The territory needs permission from Judge Rakoff to amend its complaint.