The U.S. Virgin Islands government estimated in a lawsuit filed Friday that it will seek at least $190 million in damages JPMorgan Chase in a lawsuit alleging the major bank facilitated sex trafficking through its former longtime client Jeffrey Epstein.
The Virgin Islands also said it wants an order requiring JPMorgan to take a number of measures to protect young women and girls from other predators in the future.
“These recommendations aim to address the same core issue: JPMorgan’s knowledge of
and the failure to report human trafficking involving Epstein because he lacked the economic incentive and motivation
to put compliance with the law and prevention of human trafficking ahead of profits,” says the filing in the US District Court in Manhattan.
The U.S. territory also said it would seek additional damages specifically for Epstein victims, in excess of the nearly $300 million that JPMorgan agreed to pay victims last month to settle a lawsuit filed by one of its accusers . No amount was mentioned in the file for this additional compensation from the bank, which has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
The new filing comes in response to a request from Judge Jed Rakoff last week for the territory to detail what damages it is seeking in the case, ahead of the Oct. 23 trial.
The Virgin Islands lawsuit alleges JPMorgan profited from Epstein’s trafficking in young women, which was abused by him and others during the 15 years he was a client of the bank, which is the largest in the United States.
The lawsuit alleges that JPMorgan allowed Epstein to hold tens of millions of dollars in accounts at the bank, which he used to fund his trafficking in women, despite warning signs against him from bank officials on numerous occasions over the years.
“We are pursuing this enforcement action because JPMorgan Chase’s institutional failures have enabled Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking and JPMorgan Chase needs to make significant changes to detect, report and stop human trafficking,” U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith said on Tuesday Friday in a statement.
“Financial penalties, as well as behavioral changes, are important to ensure that JPMorgan Chase understands the costs of putting its profits ahead of public safety,” Smith said.
She said if the Virgin Islands wins its lawsuit, it would use the monetary damages it received to support “efforts to strengthen, inform and expand local law enforcement and improve the Virgin Islands’ services to victims of human trafficking and other victims of crime.” .”
When asked to comment on the filing, a JPMorgan spokeswoman appeared to say for the first time that the bank’s lawyers had discussed a possible settlement of the lawsuit with US Virgin Islands lawyers, thereby avoiding a court hearing.
“This document does not reflect the nature of the settlement talks,” spokeswoman Patricia Wexler said. “The USVI’s theories on misguided claims for damages are unfounded and are being challenged by JPM in court.”
In civil litigation, it is common for cases to be settled without a trial.
The filing says the Virgin Islands alone are seeking at least $150 million in civil penalties. The filing also states that JPMorgan is expected to siphon off at least an additional $40 million in fees Epstein generated for the bank and that JPMorgan received from what he called the bank “many very wealthy clients.”
Those clients included Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Limited Brands founder Lex Wexner, and billionaire Glenn Dubin, according to the filing.
In addition to monetary damages, the Virgin Islands are also demanding that JPMorgan be forced to “implement new policies, including the separation of its business and compliance functions and the appointment of an independent compliance advisor to prevent human trafficking,” according to a press release from Smit’s office.
In its own court filings, JPMorgan has itself accused the Virgin Islands of being “complimentary in the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein.”
The bank accuses Epstein of giving money, advice and favors to senior officials there in return for turning a blind eye when he trafficked young women to abuse them there.
Epstein had residency on a private island in the area where he and others had sexually abused him and other people, according to accusers.
Last month, in the same court in which the Virgin Islands sued the bank, JPMorgan agreed, without admission of wrongdoing, to pay $290 million to Epstein victims to settle a lawsuit filed by one of its accusers.
In May, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay Epstein victims $75 million to settle a separate lawsuit filed by a prosecutor who accused Epstein of abetting his sex trade with her and others. Deutsche Bank took Epstein on as a client after JPMorgan severed ties with him in 2013, years after bank officials first raised concerns about him.
Deutsche Bank previously agreed to pay the New York State Department of Financial Services a $150 million fine for failing to detect or prevent millions of dollars in suspicious transactions involving Epstein, including “payments to Russian models and to numerous women with Eastern European surnames”. said Friday’s Virgin Islands filing.
Epstein, who had been friends with former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew of Britain, pleaded guilty to a 2008 Florida state indictment of soliciting sex from an underage girl. He served 13 months in prison, but spent much of that time getting off work each day.
Epstein, then 66, killed himself in a federal prison in New York in August 2019, a month after he was arrested on federal child trafficking charges.