JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank have been sued by victims of deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who accuse the lenders of aiding sex trafficking.
The lawsuits, filed in New York on Thursday, claim the banks turned a blind eye to suspicious withdrawals and payments from Epstein’s accounts, “knowing that they would earn millions of dollars from facilitating Epstein’s sex abuse and trafficking”.
The suit against JPMorgan highlights how the bank chose to keep on Epstein as a client, even after he was convicted and imprisoned in Florida in 2008, in order to “churn profits”. JPMorgan declined to comment.
Epstein was later taken on as a client by a banker at Deutsche Bank who had previously worked at JPMorgan and said Epstein could generate $4mn in fees a year, the suit says.
New York’s Department of Financial Services discovered that Epstein and entities controlled by him had more than 40 accounts at Deutsche.
The DFS investigation discovered that Deutsche had sent 120 wires totalling $2.65mn for Epstein to “The Butterfly Trust”, whose beneficiaries included “a number of women with eastern European surnames”. The payments were justified as “hotel expenses, tuition and rent”, as well as settlement payments of more than $7mn and legal expenses of more than $6mn. Additionally, an unnamed attorney for Epstein withdrew $800,000 in cash for travel, tipping and expenses.
The bank paid a $150mn fine in 2020 for its compliance failings and apologised for its “critical mistake” in taking on Epstein as a client.
“Deutsche Bank knowingly benefited and received things of value for assisting, supporting, facilitating, and otherwise providing the most critical service for the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking organisation,” the suit says. “Without Deutsche Bank’s assistance, Epstein could not have abused or trafficked the dozens of young women he did between 2013 and 2018.”
A Deutsche spokesman said: “We believe this claim lacks merit and will present our arguments in court.”
The accusations return attention to the longstanding links between Wall Street and Epstein, who cultivated a network of rich and powerful associates from business, academia, politics and royalty, including Britain’s Prince Andrew.
Numerous high profile financial figures such as Apollo’s Leon Black and ex-Barclays chief executive Jes Staley have been forced to step down due to their ties to the late paedophile. Epstein died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on charges that he sex-trafficked underage girls.
The unnamed woman bringing the suit against JPMorgan was a ballet dancer in New York when she was recruited by a friend to meet Epstein. The alleged abuse lasted from 2006 to 2013. The woman in the suit against Deutsche is also unnamed and is described as a resident of the state of New York. The two lawsuits seek class-action status and unspecified financial damages.
The accusations against JPMorgan lean 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 being named chief executive of Barclays in 2015.
Late last year, Staley stepped down after seeing preliminary conclusions of a probe by regulators over whether he had mischaracterised his relationship with Epstein as professional. Staley is contesting the findings and is awaiting the results of his appeal.
The Financial Times reported that the UK inquiry uncovered 1,200 emails between the two men while Staley was at JPMorgan, with content that included unexplained terms such as “snow white”.
The FT has also reported that Staley lobbied 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 customer in 2013.
A lawyer for Staley declined to comment.
The unnamed claimants are being represented by David Boies of Boies Schiller Flexner. He previously secured a settlement for Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre in a case against Prince Andrew.