JPMorgan Chase can examine statements that may have been made to prosecutors in Manhattan by a woman suing the bank over its decision to keep Jeffrey Epstein as a client, a New York judge ruled Friday.
The US lender first subpoenaed the Manhattan district attorney’s office earlier this month, seeking any statements an unnamed Epstein accuser made to his sex crimes unit in August.
The plaintiff, using the pseudonym Jane Doe, alleged that JPMorgan should be liable for damages resulting from the sexual assault of her at the hands of Epstein, and by Jess Staley, the bank’s former chief executive. Staley has strongly denied the allegations, calling them “slanderous”.
The bank sued Staley in March, arguing that it should be forced to bear the cost of any payments in connection with the cases against JPMorgan by Epstein’s accuser and the US Virgin Islands, where the late sex offender once owned a home.
In addition to searching for documents related to Jane Doe, JPMorgan asked the Manhattan DA for records of statements made by any ” [Staley] as an alleged witness or alleged perpetrator of any sexual assault, sexual assault, or other sex-related offenses.”
Judge Jed Rakoff, who oversees cases in Manhattan federal court, said JPMorgan had access to the records in question, which he later clarified related only to people wanted in connection with Jane Doe’s statements.
It came as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was answering sworn questions about his knowledge of Epstein’s crimes.
The sworn testimony, which the largest US lender has tried to prevent from happening, marks a significant escalation in the two high-profile cases over JPMorgan’s 15-year relationship with Epstein, which have embarrassed some current and former executives and highlighted the bank’s internal compliance processes.
Dimon’s name had already surfaced in the controversial lawsuit the lawsuits were filed against JPMorgan at the end of last year. It was referenced in an internal email expressing concerns about Epstein, which contained the words “Dimon’s comment is being reviewed”.
Mary Erdos, a senior JPMorgan executive, told attorneys in a sworn deposition in March that Dimon was only responsible for overseeing Staley, who had been at the bank for decades and managed the relationship with Epstein for a while, according to people familiar with the matter. . JPMorgan’s lawsuit against Staley alleges he misled the bank about Epstein’s crimes.
In a statement, JPMorgan said: “In his testimony today, our CEO emphasized time and again that he never met [Epstein], never emailed him, doesn’t remember ever discussing his accounts internally, and hasn’t been involved in any decisions regarding his account. There are millions and millions of emails and other documents produced in this case and no one comes close to indicating that he had any role in decisions about Epstein’s accounts.”
Still, the issues remain one of the few spots in the longtime CEO’s copybook. He recently announced a nearly $16 billion spending spree at JPMorgan, has been at the forefront of efforts to lobby Wall Street for a deal on the US debt ceiling to avoid default, and acquired First Republic, a failing lender, in a government-led auction.
The litigation has also raised questions more generally about the robustness of the bank’s controls during his tenure.
“It’s actually not good news if Dimon didn’t know,” said a person familiar with the bank’s organizational structure. “If no one has ever contacted him in nearly a decade of continuing to bank [Epstein] When they learned of his behavior and when he was in public, that might have been worse news.”
JPMorgan called Epstein’s scheme “brutal” and regretted being a client. Too late, no association with [Epstein] was wrong . . . But we did not help him commit his heinous crimes.”
Last week, Deutsche Bank settled separate claims related to Epstein for $75 million, which will be shared among dozens of women.
The stakes for JPMorgan may soon be even higher. During Dimon’s impeachment on Friday, a New York federal judge heard arguments from representatives of Epstein’s accuser, who maintained that hundreds of women should be entitled to compensation from the bank, which they accuse of profiting from human trafficking.
Jane Doe’s attorney, Sigrid Irons, told the court there was “clear evidence on record that the bank was aware of Epstein’s behavior . . . beginning in the early 2000s,” and argued that his crimes involved JPMorgan, of which Epstein was a client. From 1998 to 2013, “turns a blind eye”.
JPMorgan’s attorneys argued that the alleged victims had “very different experiences” and therefore should not be allowed to sue as one group.
Judge Rakoff said he understood the argument that “if these allegations are true, they may violate the sex trafficking law . . . and that if the money was provided by a bank that knew or should have known[of Epstein’s crimes]that they might also be responsible.” He said he would rule by June 20.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of soliciting a minor to engage in prostitution. More than a decade later, federal prosecutors charged him with sex trafficking, and he died by suicide in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial.