JPMorgan pays up to $290mn in settlement of Epstein accusers’ case

JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay up to $290mn to settle one of two bombshell lawsuits over its 15-year relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, which accused the bank of profiting from human trafficking by ignoring multiple internal warnings about their former client’s sex crimes.

The agreement came just hours after a federal judge ruled that the case, originally brought by a single Epstein accuser under the pseudonym Jane Doe, would be widened to include dozens of women who claim to also have been abused by the disgraced financier. The total size of the group who will share the payout exceeds 150 victims, a lawyer for Doe said.

JPMorgan has not admitted any liability. It declined to comment on the size of the payout, which was confirmed by Doe’s lawyers. The settlement has yet to be approved by a federal court in New York.

The settlement brings JPMorgan one step closer to drawing a line under the two perilous proceedings, which generated increasingly unflattering headlines for the US’s largest lender and embarrassed some of its most senior executives.

It comes almost a month after Deutsche Bank, which took on Epstein as a client in 2013 after JPMorgan terminated its relationship with the late convicted sex offender, agreed to pay up to $75mn to settle a similar lawsuit brought on behalf of dozens of other alleged victims.

JPMorgan still faces similar allegations in a separate legal challenge from the US Virgin Islands. The bank is also in the process of suing Jes Staley, one of its former senior executives, in an effort to make him liable for damages it may face over the Epstein claims.

“Taken together or individually, the historic recoveries from the banks who provided financial services to Jeffrey Epstein, speak for themselves,” David Boies, a lawyer for the accusers, said in a statement. “It has taken a long time, too long, but today is a great day for Jeffrey Epstein survivors.”

JPMorgan said the settlement was “in the best interests of all parties, especially the survivors who were the victims of Epstein’s terrible abuse”.

It added that “any association with [Epstein] was a mistake and we regret it. We would never have continued to do business with him if we believed he was using our bank in any way to help commit heinous crimes.”

The lawsuits were originally filed towards the end of last year, one by the Epstein accuser on behalf of a proposed class, and the other by the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home.

The pre-trial process led to troves of internal communications at JPMorgan being made public, including an email in which a compliance official said there was “Lots of smoke. Lots of questions” about Epstein, and one in which the financier was referred to as a “Sugar Daddy!” for young women.

Court filings also revealed that the employees at JPMorgan, which began banking Epstein in 1998, were aware by July 2006 that Epstein had been arrested in Florida, and had discussed his 2008 guilty plea to a state charge of soliciting a minor, as well as the requirement that he register as a sex offender.

The wisdom of maintaining Epstein’s accounts was also discussed at numerous meetings. They involved, at various points, executives including Mary Erdoes, who now manages JPMorgan’s $4tn asset and wealth management business, former in-house lawyer Stephen Cutler and Staley.

In March, JPMorgan sued Staley, arguing that he should be liable for any damages awarded to the plaintiffs in both lawsuits, because he had misled the bank about the nature of his relationship with Epstein. The unnamed accuser who brought the suit against JPMorgan had alleged that Staley raped her and had also witnessed her abuse at Epstein’s hands.

Staley, who spent more than 30 years at JPMorgan before being fired over a separate issue in 2013, went on to lead British bank Barclays. He has denied the allegations.

Other senior JPMorgan executives were found to have visited Epstein’s properties, including Erdoes and Mary Casey, who was for a period his private banker.

JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon last month sat for seven hours of sworn testimony about the bank’s relationship with Epstein, and lawyers for Jane Doe last week argued that he should be forced to undergo a second round of questioning.

While there was no record of Dimon himself interacting with Epstein, one message by a JPMorgan employee contained a reference to a “Dimon review” into the bank’s relationship with Epstein. The bank denied its chief executive ever had knowledge of such a review.

Epstein died by suicide in 2019 in New York, while awaiting trial on federal charges of sex trafficking. His associate Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2022.