US bank JPMorgan Chase reached an agreement in principle to settle a class action lawsuit brought by victims of deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking scheme
JPMorgan Chase announced a tentative €269 million settlement Monday with the victims of the late Jeffrey Epstein who had accused the bank of being the financial conduit that allowed the entrepreneur to continue operating a sex trafficking ring.
Epstein was arrested in 2019 on federal charges accusing him of paying underage girls for massages and then molesting them at his homes in Florida and New York.
He was found dead in jail in August of that year, at age 66. A medical examiner ruled his death a suicide.
The lawsuit filed in a New York court in November sought to hold JPMorgan financially liable for Epstein’s decades-long abuse of teenage girls and young women. A related lawsuit has been filed in the US Virgin Islands.
The proposed settlement comes roughly two weeks after JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified in a deposition for the case, where he denied knowing about Epstein and his crimes until the financier was arrested in 2019, according to a transcript of the videotaped deposition released last month.
“We all now understand that Epstein’s behaviour was monstrous, and we believe this settlement is in the best interest of all parties, especially the survivors, who suffered unimaginable abuse at the hands of this man,” JPMorgan Chase said in a written statement early Monday.
The proposed settlement, which must still be approved by the judge in the case, totals €269 million, according to lead plaintiff attorney David Boies.
According to the lawsuits, JPMorgan provided Epstein loans and regularly allowed him to withdraw large sums of cash from 1998 through August 2013 even though it was aware of his participation in sex trafficking. The anonymous victim in the suit, referred to as Jane Doe, said she was sexually abused by Epstein between 2006 and 2013.
Also on Monday, a judge ruled in favour of making Doe's lawsuit into a class-action lawsuit for all victims of Epstein's sex crimes.
“Money, which for far too long flowed with impunity between Jeffrey Epstein’s global sex trafficking enterprise and Wall Street’s leading banks, is decisively being used for good,” said Sigrid McCawley, an attorney for Jane Doe and other Epstein victims, in a prepared statement. "The settlements signal that financial institutions have an important role to play in spotting and shutting down sex trafficking.”
The bank continued to count Epstein as a client despite the fact that he was arrested and pled guilty in 2008 to sex crimes in Florida.
Lawsuits are still pending between the US Virgin Islands and JPMorgan Chase, and the bank is still pursuing its lawsuit against JPMorgan former executive Jes Staley.
The bank has denied the allegations and sued Staley, saying he hid Epstein’s crimes to keep him as a client. Staley left JPMorgan in 2013 to later become CEO of the British bank Barclays. Staley stepped down from that role in 2021 due to his prior relationship with Epstein.