JP Morgan Settles Epstein Lawsuit With U.S. Virgin Islands for $115 Million Less Than Demanded

Just weeks before a trial was set to begin, the bank opted for a payout that’s significantly less than what the territory originally demanded.

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JP Morgan Settles Epstein Lawsuit With U.S. Virgin Islands for $115 Million Less Than Demanded
Photo:Mike Kemp, New York State Sex Offender Registry

On Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase agreed to settle with the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) for $75 million in a lawsuit in which the latter alleged the nation’s largest bank was liable for enabling sex trafficking committed by its former client, Jeffrey Epstein.

The legal back-and-forth between JPMorgan Chase and the Virgin Islands began in December 2022, when the territory (and the site of several of Epstein’s crimes) filed a suit against the bank claiming that an investigation showed it was “indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise.” At the time, the Virgin Islands sought $190 million—$115 million less than what it ultimately received—from the bank. JPMorgan Chase vehemently denied accountability and flipped the accusation, calling the Virgin Islands “complicit” in Epstein’s criminal activity.

“For two decades, and for long after JPMC exited Epstein as a client, the entity that most directly failed to protect public safety and most actively facilitated and benefited from Epstein’s continued criminal activity was the plaintiff in this case—the USVI government itself,” the bank said in a court filing.

This settlement arrives months after JPMorgan settled with scores of survivors of the deceased pedophile and convicted sex offender for a total of $290 million, though it didn’t admit liability.

JPMorgan Chase’s decision to settle with the USVI seems abrupt given the Virgin Islands government had long maintained that it was determined to go to trial with the bank (a trial was to begin this October in New York). It’s also noteworthy that JPMorgan settled for significantly less than what the territory originally sought, and—once again—did not admit liability though it maintained Epstein as a client until 2013.

“JPMorgan believes this settlement is in the best interest of all parties,” the bank said in a statement. “While the settlement does not involve admissions of liability, the firm deeply regrets any association with this man, and would never have continued doing business with him if it believed he was using the bank in any way to commit his heinous crimes.”

A breakdown of the $75 million settlement stipulates that $30 million will be used to support charitable organizations, $25 million will be allocated to Virgin Islands law enforcement to combat human trafficking, and the final $20 million will pay for attorney’s fees.

“This settlement is a historic victory for survivors and for state enforcement, and it should sound the alarm on Wall Street about banks’ responsibilities under the law to detect and prevent human trafficking,” Ariel Smith, Attorney General for the USVI said in a statement. “Our Department of Justice tirelessly pursued this enforcement action to make it substantially harder for traffickers to finance their crimes in the future, and we are confident this settlement will help achieve that goal.”

Given the bank’s past accusations as to how the Virgin Islands enabled Epstein’s crimes, it’s…interesting that such a hefty amount was allocated to law enforcement. In June, JPMorgan filed a legal brief that showed Cecile de Jongh, who served as first lady of the Virgin Islands from 2007 to 2015, actively aided Epstein in carrying out his sex trafficking ring within the USVI. As evidence, it included a string of email communications between de Jongh and Epstein. In emails from 2011 (three years after Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution of a minor), de Jongh appears to consult Epstein for his approval on proposed sex offender legislation in the Virgin Islands. The legal brief filed by the bank also shows de Jongh helped Epstein’s victims receive visas and English-language classes. In July, De Jongh claimed in a deposition that she was never contacted by law enforcement about her association with Epstein until his arrest in 2019.

As Jezebel’s Kylie Cheung noted of the aforementioned bombshell filing in June, a former sex trafficking prosecutor told Law and Crime that the bank’s implication of de Jongh might’ve been a a strategy to get the government to negotiate a possible settlement and “disincentivize” the Virgin Islands from continuing its push to go to trial.”

Was he right? I guess we’ll never know.

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