The U.S. Virgin Islands has sued JPMorgan, alleging that the bank facilitated and profited from Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking scheme for over a decade. The lawsuit claims that JPMorgan handled more than $1 billion in transactions related to Epstein’s criminal enterprise and ignored numerous red flags of his illegal activities.
JPMorgan’s Role in Epstein’s Sex Ring
According to the lawsuit, JPMorgan was Epstein’s primary bank from 2003 to 2019, providing him with various financial services, such as wire transfers, cash withdrawals, credit cards, and loans. The bank also helped Epstein manage his offshore entities and trusts, which he used to conceal his assets and evade taxes.
The lawsuit alleges that JPMorgan knew or should have known that Epstein was using his accounts to fund his sex-trafficking operation, which involved recruiting, grooming, and abusing young women and girls. The bank allegedly ignored several warning signs of Epstein’s illegal conduct, such as:
- His 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from a minor and his subsequent registration as a sex offender.
- His frequent transfers of large sums of money to women and girls, some of whom were underage or had foreign passports.
- His frequent withdrawals of cash in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $100,000, which he used to pay his victims and their recruiters.
- His suspicious transactions with co-conspirators, such as Ghislaine Maxwell, Sarah Kellen, and Lesley Groff, who were indicted or sued for their roles in Epstein’s sex ring.
- His numerous reports of sexual assault and trafficking filed by his victims in various jurisdictions.
The lawsuit claims that JPMorgan failed to report any of these suspicious activities to the authorities, as required by law. Instead, the bank continued to do business with Epstein and even rewarded him with preferential treatment, such as lower fees, higher interest rates, and personal access to senior executives.
JPMorgan’s Response to the Lawsuit
JPMorgan has denied any wrongdoing and has moved to dismiss the lawsuit. The bank argues that it did not participate in or benefit from Epstein’s sex ring, and that it had no duty to monitor or report his transactions. The bank also contends that the U.S. Virgin Islands lacks standing to sue it, since the territory was not harmed by Epstein’s crimes.
JPMorgan’s lawyer, Felicia Ellsworth, told the court that the lawsuit was based on “speculation and innuendo” and that the territory had not presented any evidence that the bank violated any laws or regulations. She also said that the bank had cooperated with the authorities after Epstein’s death in 2019 and had notified the Treasury Department of more than $1 billion in suspicious transactions from his accounts.
The Trial Date and the Potential Damages
The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 23, 2023. The U.S. Virgin Islands is seeking at least $150 million in civil penalties from JPMorgan for violating the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which prohibits anyone from knowingly benefiting from a sex-trafficking venture. The territory is also seeking an injunction to prevent JPMorgan from participating in or obstructing any future investigations into sex trafficking.
The lawsuit is part of a broader effort by the U.S. Virgin Islands to hold Epstein and his associates accountable for their crimes. The territory has also sued Epstein’s estate, which is valued at over $600 million, and has alleged that there could be more victims of his sex ring who are ready to come forward.