A US Virgin Islands attorney argued in federal court JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and ex-top bank executive Jes Staley were aware of sex trafficking by the bank’s notorious client Jeffrey Epstein.
The attorney’s argument pushed back JPMorgan’s move earlier this month to transfer all legal responsibility for its business relationship with the late Epstein solely to Staley.
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“Jamie Dimon knew in 2008 that his billionaire client was a sex trafficker,” attorney Mimi Liu told Manhattan U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff at a hearing late Thursday, referring to the year Epstein was first charged with sex crimes .
Jamie Dimon, CEO, JP Morgan Chase, during an interview with Jim Cramer, February 23, 2023.
“If Staley is a rogue employee, why isn’t Jamie Dimon?” Liu said at the hearing addressing JPMorgan’s efforts to dismiss the Virgin Islands lawsuit against the bank over its relationship with Epstein.
The attorney continued, “Staley knew, Dimon knew, JPMorgan Chase knew” of Epstein’s criminal conduct.
Liu said there have been multiple cash transactions and wire transfers from Epstein, including sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to several women who should be officially flagged as suspects.
“They broke every rule to facilitate his sex trade in exchange for Epstein’s wealth, connections and endorsements,” Liu argued
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“This case wasn’t just Jes Staley … there will be numerous documents reaching well beyond his office to the boardroom,” she said.
A lawyer for JPMorgan disputed those arguments, “particularly the point that Jamie Dimon has specific knowledge.”
Dimon is not a named defendant in the lawsuit against the bank.
Jes Staley, Chief Executive Officer of Barclays Plc, speaks during an interview with Bloomberg Television on day three of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday January 24, 2019.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
JPMorgan spokeswoman Patricia Wexler said in a statement, “It is unfair for CNBC to report unsubstantiated arguments by attorneys as fact.”
Wexler also said, “Jamie Dimon does not recall checking the Epstein accounts.”
Staley has denied knowing about Epstein’s illegal conduct. He was CEO of Barclays from 2015 until late 2021, when he resigned following an investigation into his ties to Epstein by UK financial regulators.
Virgin Islands lawyers have previously pointed to an August 2008 internal email at JPMorgan that indicated Epstein’s account would be closed that year over concerns about his conduct.
“I would count Epstein’s fortune as a probable outflow for 2008 (about $120 million?) as I can’t see it staying up (until Dimon checks),” an unidentified employee wrote in that email, which was mentioned in the Virgin Islands Magazine. Legal action.
That email came two years after JPMorgan’s Global Corporate Security Division found several newspaper articles “detailing the charges against Jeffrey Epstein in Florida regarding the solicitation of underage prostitutes,” according to the lawsuit.
US financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photo taken March 28, 2017 for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry and obtained by Reuters on July 10, 2019.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services | Handout | Reuters
The Virgin Islands lawsuit against the bank alleges that Epstein’s 15-year client relationship with the bank helped him transport young women whom he and others then sexually abused on his Virgin Islands property.
The lawsuit was filed three years after Epstein, who was a former friend of ex-Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, died by suicide in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on federal child sex trafficking charges.
JPMorgan said Dimon was not involved in any decisions related to Epstein’s account at the bank.
Last week, the bank sued Staley, its former investment banking chief, claiming he was legally responsible for lawsuits brought by the Virgin Islands and Epstein’s victims related to Epstein’s relationship with JPMorgan. The lawsuit seeks to recover more than $80 million in damages Staley received.
In an argument Thursday, a lawyer for the bank said, “All roads lead to Mr. Staley.”
“He will be at the center of this case whether there is one or two trials for each lawsuit,” the attorney said.
Epstein was a private client of the bank until 2013, at least in part because Staley had vouched for him.
But in 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of procuring an underage prostitute, a crime that was widely reported at the time. He later served 13 months in prison.
“In 2013 – the year JPMorgan ended its relationship with Epstein – JPMorgan pointed out in Epstein’s story that ‘[p]is banking policy, criminal [like Epstein] are considered high risk and require additional approval,’” the Virgin Islands lawsuit notes.
Rakoff, the judge, did not rule on the motion to dismiss the lawsuit Thursday.
He said he would rule on that issue by the end of March, but agreed that the Virgin Islands have the right to file a lawsuit on behalf of all residents of the territory.
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