JPMorgan Chase recently announced a $75 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Virgin Islands. The lawsuit accused the American bank of facilitating and benefiting from the sex trafficking of young women by its longtime customer, Jeffrey Epstein. While JPMorgan did not admit any wrongdoing, this settlement aims to provide financial support to the Virgin Islands charities’ anti-trafficking efforts and cover attorneys’ fees incurred during the litigation.
Friends of Epstein
The Virgin Islands emphasized that this settlement includes significant commitments from JPMorgan Chase to identify, report, and cut off support for potential human trafficking. The agreement also allocates $10 million to create a fund offering mental health services for Epstein’s victims.
Additionally, JPMorgan reached a confidential settlement with Jes Staley, a former bank executive and friend of Epstein. The bank had claimed that Staley was responsible for any civil damages and costs related to Epstein-related litigation.
JPMorgan expressed deep regret for its association with Epstein, who was a client from 1998 to 2013. Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith regarded this agreement as the first enforcement action against a bank for facilitating and profiting from human trafficking.
A Second Settlement
Attorney General Smith stated, “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.”
This settlement follows a separate $290 million settlement by JPMorgan with victims of Epstein, which resolved a similar lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Both settlements allowed the bank to avoid a trial on the Virgin Islands’ allegations in the same court.
The Virgin Islands had claimed that JPMorgan overlooked warning signs of Epstein’s activities, such as his 2008 guilty plea in Florida for soliciting sex from an underage girl. They alleged that the bank did so in order to retain Epstein’s business and that of his influential associates.
Where the Money Goes
In a press release, JPMorgan said it “believes this settlement is in the best interest of all parties, particularly for those who can benefit from efforts to combat human trafficking, and for survivors who suffer unimaginable abuse at the hands of these criminals.”
A significant portion of the settlement will support the Virgin Islands in enhancing its law enforcement infrastructure to combat human trafficking and other crimes. JPMorgan will also allocate funds to charitable organizations in the U.S. Virgin Islands working to address social issues, including human trafficking and sex crimes, as well as supporting survivors in their recovery.
In the end, JPMorgan’s $75 million settlement mirrors the amount Deutsche Bank agreed to pay Epstein’s victims in a separate lawsuit. Deutsche Bank had taken Epstein on as a customer after JPMorgan severed ties with him when Jes Staley departed from the bank.
Some think the bank maintained Jeffrey Epstein’s business in order to maintain relationships with prominent figures he associated with, such as former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew, and billionaire business relationships like Les Wexner.
Jes Staley, the former JPMorgan executive, consistently denied allegations of wrongdoing, including accusations of sexual assault. His tenure at Barclays ended in November 2021 following an investigation by British bank regulators into his characterization of his relationship with Epstein.
In the end, JPMorgan’s statement read, “The firm will continue to work with law enforcement to combat human trafficking and help to identify improper money movement into the global payments systems.”
A Less than Satisfying Conviction
In response to this settlement, many seem to feel as though there is far more to this case, and simply forcing banks to spend more money is far from any real justice.
One social media user commented, “Still scratching my head how Ghislaine Maxwell can be convicted of all these child sex crimes without there, being any of the perpetrators being brought to justice.”
A second user bluntly stated, “75 million is chump change to them. Executives need to start seeing prison time and no resort prison either.”
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