U.S. Virgin Islands Seeks $190M In Jeffrey Epstein Sex-Trafficking Suit
It’s been nearly four years since formerly high-flying financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in a New York jail cell after his arrest on sex trafficking charges. But according to officials from the U.S. Virgin Islands, bank JPMorgan Chase was aware of Epstein’s activities long before he was taken into custody, allowing him to abuse victims at a compound he had in that territory.
The allegations were first made in a lawsuit filed last year that claimed that “the bank should have known about Mr. Epstein’s illegal activities at a villa on Little St. James Island,” the New York Times reported last December.
That villa, characterized by the Independent as “a Zen-like retreat” with a uniformed staff of 70 workers, reportedly boasted an enviable roster of guests over the years, including Epstein client and confidante Prince Andrew, model Naomi Campbell, actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Chris Tucker, and physicist Stephen Hawking. Guests would arrive via private jet, the same transport later referred to as “the Lolita Express,” as those same planes were said to ferry Epstein’s alleged victims to and from the island, as well.
“JPMorgan knowingly, negligently and unlawfully provided and pulled the levers through which recruiters and victims were paid and was indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise,” the lawsuit read, citing a civil racketeering case it filed in 2020 against Epstein’s estate. In that suit, which was settled for $105 million, the U.S. Virgin Islands outlined a complex scheme in which the territory was deceived into allowing Epstein’s behavior to continue unchecked.
Epstein was a client of JP Morgan Chase from 1998 through 2013, when the bank says it terminated the relationship – five years after the disgraced financier was convicted in 2008 of soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl. The bank eventually agreed to a $290 million settlement with a group of Epstein’s alleged victims, who also claimed that the financial institution must have been aware of his activities, especially since he remained a registered sex offender after the 2008 case.
In a court filing Friday, the U.S. Virgin Islands said that in addition to providing the multimillion-dollar payout, JP Morgan Chase should scrutinize “the root causes of the bank’s failures in its banking relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and identifying the missed opportunities to report his criminal activities,” CNN reported.
“Over more than a decade, JPMorgan clearly knew it was not complying with federal regulations in regard to Epstein-related accounts as evidenced by its too-little too-late efforts after Epstein was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges and shortly after his death, when JPMorgan (JPM) belatedly complied with federal law,” the suit states.
So far, JP Morgan has denied the territory’s claims. In fact, reports the New York Times “it argued that the Virgin Islands government did little itself to deter any illegal activity” and even protected his private compound at his request. The arguments in the Friday filing are “not well founded and are being challenged by JPM in court,” bank spokesperson Patricia Wexler said.
U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith remains undaunted, however, and told the Wall Street Journal that the territory was ready to move forward with the case. “I am gratified that the victims have received some measure of compensation from the bank,” Smith said, “but more needs to be done to hold JPMorgan Chase accountable and to ensure this does not happen to another generation of women and girls.”
The trial, should it continue, is expected to kick off in October.