HomeBusinessJeffrey Epstein’s accusers are suing Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan
Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers are suing Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan
November 25, 2022
The two lawsuits are seeking class action status and unspecified financial damages. They were both brought by lawyers who have represented many of the late financier’s accusers. The lawsuits were filed in federal court in New York on Thursday.
“The time has come for the real enablers to be held accountable, especially his wealthy friends and the financial institutions that played an integral role,” one of the lawyers, Bradley Edwards, said in a written statement. “These victims were wronged by many, not just Epstein. He did not act alone.”
A spokesman for Deutsche Bank said: “We believe this claim lacks merit and will present our arguments in court.” A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment.
The Deutsche Bank lawsuit cites many of the findings of an investigation by the New York state financial regulator into that bank’s relationship with Epstein. The JPMorgan lawsuit cites the relationship between Epstein and a former JPMorgan executive who was investigated by British regulators.
The unnamed woman suing JPMorgan is a former New York ballet dancer who was recruited by another young woman and sexually abused by Epstein from 2006 to 2013, according to her suit. She claims she was also trafficked to his friends. Large sums of money were withdrawn from JPMorgan to make cash payments to her and other women, the suit states. The suit alleges that Epstein used the cash to pay for sexual acts.
Another woman suing Deutsche Bank was sexually abused by Epstein and shopped for his friends from about 2003 to about 2018 and was also paid cash for sexual acts, according to her suit. The bank ignored red flags, including payments to several young women and large cash withdrawals, the suit said. New York’s regulator found that Epstein, his related entities and associates had more than 40 accounts at Deutsche Bank.
The lawsuits allege that both banks aided and abetted Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking by enabling him to make payments to women for sexual acts, and that the banks profited from Epstein’s activities. Both banks worked with Epstein for years after he pleaded guilty in a Florida court in 2008 to soliciting prostitution from a minor. Epstein died in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.
The suits allege the banks violated human trafficking laws by helping Epstein access accounts and cash. Banks need to know who their customers are and what accounts are being used to police money laundering and avoid enabling criminal activity.
The suit against JPMorgan says Epstein started banking with the firm sometime around 1998 and developed a close relationship with Jes Staley, then head of private banking. Epstein approached Deutsche Bank when ties to JPMorgan ended around 2013, the lawsuits say.
The suit says JPMorgan turned a blind eye to Epstein’s activities in exchange for financial gain. Epstein introduced Mr. Staley for wealthy clients and helped the bank arrange its deal to buy a majority stake in Highbridge Capital in 2004, on top of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking, according to the suit.
The suit says JPMorgan also housed the accounts of longtime Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and that she received about $31 million from Epstein between 1999 and 2007 as alleged compensation for her help in sex trafficking. After Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008, Mr. Staley visited him while he was serving his sentence in Florida, the filing said.
Mr. Staley later left JPMorgan and became chief executive of Barclays PLC in December 2015. He resigned in November 2021 amid an investigation by UK regulators into his relationship with Epstein and the bank’s revelations about their connections. The two men exchanged more than a thousand emails during Mr. Staley’s time at JPMorgan, the suit states.
“I deeply regret having had any relationship with Jeffrey Epstein,” Mr Staley told reporters in 2020. Staley has previously said his relationship with Epstein was professional and ended before he took over Barclays.
A lawyer for Mr. Staley declined to comment.
The suit says Mary Erdoes, currently head of JPMorgan’s asset and wealth management division, also protected Epstein as a client after other executives questioned why the bank was working with him. A JPMorgan spokesman previously disputed that Ms. Erdoes was protecting Epstein, saying she remembered only one formal meeting with him “which was the day she fired him as a client.”
The JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment on Ms. Erdoes’ behalf.
Paul Morris, who was among Epstein’s private wealth managers at JPMorgan and then at Deutsche Bank, emailed his bosses at Deutsche Bank in 2013 to tell them that Epstein’s accounts could generate $100 million to $300 million in cash flow and 2- 4 million dollars annually. fees, and the men agreed to add him as a customer despite his prior conviction, according to the suit against Deutsche Bank.
Mr. Morris did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The New York state financial regulator fined Deutsche Bank $150 million in 2020 for failing to monitor its dealings with the convicted sex offender and other lapses. Deutsche Bank said at the time that it was a mistake to take on Epstein as a client and acknowledged weaknesses in its processes and that it had learned from its mistakes.
In its 2020 findings, the New York regulator said some of the payments Epstein made from his Deutsche Bank accounts were suspicious. For example, it said, Epstein sent $2.65 million in more than 120 wire transfers to beneficiaries of an entity called the Butterfly Trust. Some payments went to people named as co-conspirators in his previous cases involving sexual abuse or to women with Eastern European surnames for hotel expenses, tuition and rent, the regulator said.
“Knowing that they would make millions of dollars from facilitating Epstein’s sex trade, and from its relationship with Epstein, Deutsche Bank chose profit over following the law,” the suit states.
Deutsche Bank ended ties with Epstein after the Miami Herald’s reporting in 2018 detailed allegations from women who said they were victims of Epstein as girls. But a Deutsche Bank official wrote letters of reference to other banks, according to the suit.
Epstein left an estate worth at least $577 million, which has been the subject of lawsuits. Last year Ms. Maxwell convicted by a federal jury for his role in helping to recruit and groom teenage girls for him.
—Patricia Kowsmann and Jenny Strasburg contributed to this article.
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