News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Dec. 29, 2022: A Caribbean US territory is suing JPMorgan Chase for helping Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of women and girls.
The US Virgin Islands is suing the bank in federal court in New York. The documents submitted by the US Virgin Islands’ (USVI) attorney general accuse JPMorgan Chase of “turning a blind eye” to illegal activities committed by Epstein – a client of the bank – on his private island, Little St James, which is part of the Caribbean US territory.
The USVI attorney general, Denise George, said the bank should have known about the financier’s crimes and should have reported them as part of anti-money laundering laws.
“JPMorgan knowingly, negligently and unlawfully provided and pulled the levers through which recruiters and victims were paid and was indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise,” the lawsuit states according to reports. “Human trafficking was the principal business of the accounts Epstein maintained at JPMorgan.”
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for violating sex-trafficking, bank-secrecy and consumer laws. It claims that the bank concealed “wire and cash transactions that raised suspicion of a criminal enterprise whose currency was the sexual servitude” of women and girls.
JPMorgan declined to comment. However, a source familiar with the lawsuit sought to point out that the bank “ended its relationship with Epstein long before his ongoing misconduct became known.”
The lawsuit against the top global bank comes after Epstein’s estate agreed last month to pay the USVI more than $105m as part of a settlement in a case involving his sex trafficking and child exploitation on the islands’ territory.
As part of the agreement, the estate agreed to pay the USVI half the proceeds from the sale of Little St James, the private island he bought in 1998 and allegedly used for many of his sexual crimes.
The settlement, which does not include any admission of wrongdoing, includes the return of more than $80m in economic development tax benefits that Epstein and others had “fraudulently obtained to fuel his criminal enterprise.”
At the time of the agreement, George said: “This settlement restores the faith of the people of the Virgin Islands that its laws will be enforced, without fear or favor, against those who break them. We are sending a clear message that the Virgin Islands will not serve as a haven for human trafficking.”
Epstein was found dead in a New York jail cell in 2019 where he was being held without bail after his arrest on sex-trafficking charges. He was facing trial in Manhattan on federal crimes, having worked out a plea deal in Florida years earlier on charges of sex offences.
His former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, was convicted of similar charges in December 2021. Maxwell, daughter of the British press baron Robert Maxwell, was found guilty of sex trafficking and related charges for luring girls as young as 14 into Epstein’s abusive orbit. During her trial, a JPMorgan banker testified that Epstein wired her $31m (£25m), and prosecutors suggested this was Maxwell’s payment for procuring young girls for Epstein and friends.