The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands has filed a court document estimating that it will seek damages of at least $190 million from JPMorgan Chase in a lawsuit that accuses the bank of facilitating sex trafficking by its former customer, Jeffrey Epstein. The territory is also requesting an order that would require JPMorgan to take specific actions to protect young women and girls from future predators. The filing states that these recommendations aim to address the core issue of JPMorgan’s knowledge of Epstein’s trafficking activities and its failure to report them due to a lack of economic incentive and motivation to prioritize compliance with the law and prevention of trafficking over its own profits.
Additionally, the U.S. Virgin Islands intends to seek further compensatory damages for Epstein’s victims, separate from the nearly $300 million settlement that JPMorgan agreed to pay one of his accusers last month. However, the exact amount for these additional damages is not specified in the filing. This response comes after Judge Jed Rakoff requested clarification on the damages sought in the case, as it approaches its scheduled trial date on October 23.
The lawsuit filed by the U.S. Virgin Islands accuses JPMorgan of benefiting from Epstein’s trafficking of young women during his 15-year tenure as a client of the bank. It alleges that despite numerous red flags raised by bank employees over the years, JPMorgan allowed Epstein to maintain significant funds in his accounts, which he used to finance his exploitative activities. JPMorgan, which did not provide an immediate comment, has consistently denied any wrongdoing in connection with this case.
U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith emphasized the importance of holding JPMorgan accountable for its institutional failure, which enabled Epstein’s sex trafficking. Smith stated that significant changes must be made within the bank to detect, report, and prevent human trafficking. She further explained that financial penalties and conduct changes are crucial to ensure that JPMorgan understands the consequences of prioritizing its own profits over public safety.
If successful in the lawsuit, the U.S. Virgin Islands plans to allocate the monetary damages received to support initiatives aimed at strengthening law enforcement, providing assistance to victims of human trafficking and other crimes, and enhancing local services. The court filing specifies that the territory is seeking a minimum of $150 million in civil penalties. Furthermore, it demands that JPMorgan disgorge at least an additional $40 million in fees generated by Epstein and obtained from other wealthy clients he referred to the bank, including Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, Lex Wexner, founder of Limited Brands, and billionaire Glenn Dubin.
U.S. Virgin Islands Calls for Policy Changes and Independent Compliance Consultant
In addition to monetary damages, the U.S. Virgin Islands is urging JPMorgan to implement new policies to prevent human trafficking. The territory’s press release states that these policies should include the separation of business and compliance functions and the appointment of an independent compliance consultant. These measures are vital to ensure the prevention of future instances of trafficking.
JPMorgan, in its own court filings, has accused the U.S. Virgin Islands of complicity in Epstein’s crimes. The bank alleges that Epstein provided money, advice, and favors to high-ranking officials in the territory in exchange for their complicity in turning a blind eye to his trafficking activities. Epstein had a residence on a private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he and others allegedly abused victims.
Last month, JPMorgan agreed to pay $290 million to Epstein’s victims, settling a lawsuit filed by one of his accusers. However, the bank did not admit any wrongdoing in the case. Similarly, Deutsche Bank settled a separate lawsuit in May, agreeing to pay $75 million to Epstein’s victims. Deutsche Bank had taken on Epstein as a customer after JPMorgan severed ties with him in 2013, following concerns raised by bank employees. Previously, Deutsche Bank had also been fined $150 million by the New York State’s Department of Financial Services for its failure to detect or prevent suspicious transactions related to Epstein.
Jeffrey Epstein, known for his associations with former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as Prince Andrew of Great Britain, pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting sex from an underage girl in Florida. He served 13 months in jail, primarily on work release, before dying by suicide in a federal jail in New York in August 2019, a month after being arrested on federal child sex trafficking charges.