Around 2000, Douglas “Sandy” Warner, then boss of JPMorgan Chase & Co., told banker Jes Staley that he should meet a man named Jeffrey Epstein.
“He’s one of the most connected people I know in New York,” Warner told Staley, according to documents filed in Manhattan federal court on Monday.
Epstein would go on to generate more than $8 million in revenue for JPMorgan’s private banking investment business, the documents show. The financier referred the bank to a roll call of US billionaires, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
But the relationship would also become one of JPMorgan’s most controversial. The US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a private retirement and brought some of his victims before his death in 2019, is suing the bank for allegedly enabling his sex trafficking. The territory seeks at least $190 million of JPMorgan, accusing the company of putting revenue generated by Epstein’s activities and connections ahead of acting on warning signs.
In a Monday court filing, the USVI presented its case against the bank after several months of discovery, which turned over hundreds of thousands of pages of internal bank documents and led to depositions from current and former bank employees. He is seeking partial summary judgment in his lawsuit filed last year alleging JPMorgan ignored signs that Epstein was using his bank accounts to fund the sex trafficking of young women.
The bank denied any knowledge of Epstein’s crimes and said it regretted retaining him as a client.
JPMorgan, in a separate document deposit Monday, seeking partial summary judgment, argued that the USVI lawsuit was flawed. The bank said the territory enabled Epstein’s crimes by waiving its sex offender monitoring requirements, arranging visas for its victims and looking the other way when he arrived at local airports with young women and girls.
JPMorgan also denies the suggestion that it let Epstein fly under the radar, saying it filed about 150 currency transaction reports linked to Epstein between 2002 and 2013.
Spokespersons for JPMorgan and Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The USVI, in its court filing, pointed to emails between compliance officers and executives about Epstein to allege the bank knew or should have known he was involved in sex trafficking. As compliance staff lobbied in 2011 for the bank to fire Epstein, internal emails showed his interest in young women was also the butt of jokes.
In one case chronicled in the USVI filing, former CFO of JPMorgan Asset and Wealth Management David Brigstocke compared another client’s house to Epstein’s: “Reminded me of JE’s house, except it was more elegant and there were fewer nymphets.” The email was sent to Mary Erdoes, the current head of asset and wealth management, in 2012. Erdoes fired Epstein as a client a year later after Staley, his top supporter, left JPMorgan.
Yet JPMorgan continued to do business with Epstein behind the scenes until his death, according to USVI.
The bank relied on him for referrals from potential clients, depending on the territory. A former JPMorgan private banker has met with Epstein 10 times, including about dealings with private equity titan Leon Black, who was once a Client of Epstein.
The USVI also highlighted the dozens of transfers Epstein made between his accounts and the accounts of young women. Anyone publicly identified in police or press reports as a victim of Epstein or a recruiter of young women for him has done business with JPMorgan, according to the USVI.
“JPMorgan knowingly handled virtually every financial transaction Epstein needed to operate his sex trafficking business,” the territory said in the filing. “From millions of cash withdrawals and payments to co-conspirators, recruiters and victims, to millions of payments to lawyers and publicists for the ongoing cover-up.”
Epstein’s banking relationship centered on Staley, the former head of private banking.
When Epstein was indicted for soliciting a minor for prostitution in 2006, Staley, who was deposed in the USVI trial in June, claimed he raised the matter “very publicly” with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.
Dimon has denied any involvement in Epstein’s accounts, saying he never knew or met him. And Dimon testified that he never told Staley about Epstein.
The lawsuit, and another class action lawsuit the bank recently settled with one of Epstein’s victims, has unearthed new details about the depth of the relationship between Staley and Epstein.
In addition to sanctions and restitution, the USVI is demanding reforms at JPMorgan to protect against human trafficking.
The case is USVI v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, 22-cv-10904-UA, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).