A lawsuit has been filed against JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank by victims of deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who accuse the lenders of aiding sex trafficking.
The lawsuits filed in New York on Thursday allege that the banks turned a blind eye to suspicious withdrawals and payments from Epstein’s accounts, “knowing that they would earn millions of dollars facilitating Epstein’s exploitation of sexual assault and trafficking.”
The lawsuit against JPMorgan highlights how the bank chose to keep Epstein as a customer, even after he was convicted and jailed in Florida in 2008, in order to “motivate profits.” JPMorgan declined to comment.
The lawsuit says Epstein was subsequently selected as a client by a Deutsche Bank banker who had previously worked for JPMorgan and said Epstein could generate up to $4 million in fees a year.
New York’s Department of Financial Services discovered that Epstein and entities he controls had more than 40 accounts at Deutsche.
The DFS investigation discovered that Deutsche had sent 120 wires totaling $2.65 million to Epstein to “The Butterfly Trust”, whose beneficiaries included “a number of surnamed Eastern European women”. The payments were justified as “hotel expenses, tuition and rent,” plus settlement payments in excess of $7 million, and legal expenses in excess of $6 million. In addition, Epstein’s unnamed attorney withdrew $800,000 in cash for travel, tips, and expenses.
The bank paid a $150 million fine in 2020 for its failures to comply and apologized for a “grave error” in dealing with Epstein as a client.
“Deutsche Bank knowingly benefited and obtained objects of value to assist, support, facilitate, and provide services most importantly to the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking organization,” the suit says. “Without Deutsche Bank’s help, Epstein would not have abused or trafficked the dozens of young women he abused between 2013 and 2018.”
A Deutsche spokesperson said: “We believe this claim lacks merit and will present our arguments in court.”
The accusations bring back attention to the long-standing ties between Wall Street and Epstein, who have built a network of wealthy and powerful partners from business, academia, politics and the royal family, including Britain’s Prince Andrew.
Several high-profile financial figures, such as Apollo’s Leon Black and former Barclays CEO Jes Staley, have had to step down over their links to the late paedophile. Epstein died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial for the sex trafficking of underage girls.
The unnamed woman suing JPMorgan was a ballet dancer in New York when a friend recruited her to meet Epstein. The alleged abuses continued from 2006 to 2013. The woman in the lawsuit against Deutsche also is not named and is described as a resident of New York State. The two lawsuits seek class action status and unspecified monetary damages.
The charges against JPMorgan rest heavily on the close relationship between Staley and Epstein, who for years was his private banker at JPMorgan and visited him after his conviction in Florida. He also sailed to Epstein’s private Caribbean island with his family shortly before he was appointed CEO of Barclays in 2015.
Late last year, Staley resigned after seeing the preliminary findings of an investigation by regulators into whether he had mischaracterized his relationship with Epstein as professional. Staley contests the results and is awaiting the results of his appeal.
The Financial Times reported that the UK investigation uncovered 1,200 emails between the two men while Staley was at JPMorgan, with content that included unexplained terms such as “Snow White”.
The Financial Times also reported that Staley pressured his employer to keep Epstein as a client – despite the fact that the disgraced financier had been convicted of prostitution offences – before the bank cut him off as a client in 2013.
Staley’s lawyer declined to comment.
The Unsung Claimants are represented by David Boise of Boise’s Schiller Flexner. He previously secured a settlement for Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre in a case against Prince Andrew.