US Virgin Islands say JP Morgan Chase helped Jeffrey Epstein traffic girls; here’s what you need to know about the case

The planned deposition of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon May 26 in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Virgin Islands alleging the bank aided notorious sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein marked a milestone in the complicated litigation.

The case, filed in Manhattan Federal Court, makes sweeping claims, with a U.S. territory pitted against the biggest bank in America.

At the center of the case is notorious sexual predator and financier Jeffery Epstein. After his arrest in 2019, the full extent of Epstein’s activities became widely known. He’d built a reputation for his lavish lifestyle as a financier for the world’s elite, jetting around the world and rubbing elbows with the likes of Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew.

The U.S. Virgin Islands suit alleges JPMorgan was complicit in bankrolling the predator’s activities. The case alleges that employees of the bank found Epstein’s actions suspicious on several occasions and show that Epstein had close and easy access to top executives, despite his 2008 guilty plea to soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl.

Epstein died three years ago while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges in a Manhattan jail.

His former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, is currently serving out a 20-year sentence for her own role in the sex trafficking scheme. She was found guilty of enticing and transporting teenage girls to be abused sexually by Epstein.

Here’s what you need to know about the case and what comes next.

—What JPMorgan allegedly knew

JPMorgan, which has for years claimed it didn’t know about Epstein’s crimes, is currently facing two lawsuits for its alleged involvement with Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise.

The suit, filed late last year by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, says the bank profited from keeping Epstein as a client, and that it was complicit in funding his child sex trafficking operation. The case alleges the bank chose to ignore red flags about Epstein’s underage sex trafficking ring because it was profiting from its relationship with him.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is where the late multimillionaire owned two islands and a mansion. The suit is seeking monetary damages.

The other suit was filed in November by an anonymous victim of Epstein’s under a new New York law that lifts the statute of limitations for sex abuse and assault lawsuits.

The complaint against JPMorgan, filed by USVI Attorney General Denise George last December, alleges that the bank knowingly played an extensive role in enabling Epstein to continue sex trafficking young girls. George was fired days after filing the lawsuit by the territory’s current governor.

The bank “pulled the levers through which recruiters and victims were paid and was indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise,” reads the complaint.

“JP Morgan turned a blind eye to evidence of human trafficking over more than a decade because of Epstein’s own financial footprint, and because of the deals and clients that Epstein brought and promised to bring to the bank,” the USVI allege.

—Internal fighting

A fight has also unfolded within JPMorgan. On Wednesday, Judge Jed Rakoff announced he won’t stop JPMorgan’s legal efforts to blame a former executive for allegedly concealing the pedophile’s activities to keep him on as a client.

Both suits against the banks allege Jes Staley, a former executive of the bank, played a key part in JPMorgan’s support of Epstein, though neither name him as a defendant.

Staley, who was deposed earlier this week, had “a close personal relationship and ‘profound’ friendship” with Epstein, according to an amended complaint filed in January. The bank’s has filed a separate lawsuit against Staley, in an attempt to hold him responsible for any damages from the two suits.

The case filed by the Virgin Islands is of particular importance because of its far reach as an attempt to reckon with who enabled Epstein at a time when his criminal operation was in full swing.

—The bank strikes back

This week, JPMorgan, which previously called the suit against them a “masterclass in deflection,” turned the tables on the Virgin Islands and accused officials there of complicity with Epstein.

“Epstein could have lived anywhere in the world. He chose USVI,” a response filed by the bank says.

It alleges Epstein had a relationship with the territory’s top-ranking officials and that he allegedly gave them money, favors and influence in exchange for ignoring and enabling the disturbing sex trafficking scheme.

“USVI protected Epstein, fostering the perfect conditions for Epstein’s criminal conduct to continue undetected,” the bank’s response says. “Rather than stop him, they helped him.”

Cecile de Jongh, the wife of former USVI Governor John de Jongh, was Epstein’s “primary conduit for spreading money and influence throughout the USVI government,” according to the bank.

“Lest there be doubt that Epstein’s goal was to gain influence, First Lady de Jongh explicitly advised Epstein on how to buy control of the USVI political class,” the bank’s response read.

The bank claims de Jongh tried to tailor the territory’s sex offender law to Epstein, even asking for his input on a draft version.

“This is the suggested language; will it work for you?” de Jongh allegedly asked in an email to Epstein.

The first lady helped Epstein coordinate flights, find work and school visas for his victims and gave him explicit advice on how to curry favor among the Islands’ officials, the bank’s filing read.

In exchange, Epstein gave cash and gifts, including thousands of dollars in donations to elected officials, schools and little leagues and to de Jongh herself, who received $200,000 in 2007 alone, the bank’s lawyer wrote.

“In sum, in exchange for Epstein’s cash and gifts, USVI made life easy for him. The government mitigated any burdens from his sex offender status. And it made sure that no one asked too many questions about his transport and keeping of young girls on his island,” the response says.

—What’s next?

Dozens of victims, officials and bank employees are being brought in for depositions, as part of the pre-trial discovery process. There are sure to be more turns in the case as it develops. The trial for all three cases is set for October 23.

Next month, the current governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Albert Bryan, is scheduled to be deposed.

Judge Rakoff on Friday ruled that the Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg must hand over documents JPMorgan is seeking.

In a separate matter, lawyers for Epstein victims last week confirmed they had reached a tentative $75 million settlement in a lawsuit filed in November against Deutsche Bank. The proposed class-action lawsuit against Deutsche Bank was similar to the one victims filed against JPMorgan. A Jane Doe accused the bank of facilitating Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring to sexually assault her and others.