(Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Deutsche Bank AG were accused of enabling the sexual abuse of Jeffrey Epstein in New York class action suits that allege the banks turned a blind eye in order to “churn profits.”
The lawsuits, filed separately in a New York court, allege the banks had “knowingly benefited and received things of value for assisting, supporting, facilitating, and otherwise providing the most critical service for the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking organization.”
JPMorgan was accused in the suit of “financially benefiting from participating” in the alleged sex trafficking through providing financial support from 1998 to August 2013. Deutsche Bank was accused of knowing that they would “earn million of dollars” from its relationship with Epstein.
Both suits are seeking unspecified damages and ask to be certified as a class action. A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman said the claim “lacks merit” and the bank will present its arguments in court. A spokesman for JPMorgan in London declined to comment.
“Epstein and his co-conspirators could not have victimized without assistance from wealthy individuals and financial institutions,” Bradley Edwards, a lawyer at Edwards Pottinger, one of the firms bringing the suit, said. “We will not stop fighting for the survivors until everyone is held responsible.”
The suits threaten to return the spotlight to Wall Street and the nature of its links to Epstein. A Who’s Who of prominent financiers, entrepreneurs, politicians and even royals have been tainted by their association with the convicted pedophile.
Epstein was found dead in his U.S. jail cell in 2019, after being arrested and charged with sex trafficking. Epstein spent decades cultivating ties to U.S. and British elites including several Wall Street figures.
A Who’s Who of prominent financiers, entrepreneurs, politicians and even royals have been tainted by their association with the convicted pedophile.
The UK’s Prince Andrew had to withdraw from public duties after a disastrous television interview about his ties to Epstein. Jes Staley abruptly stepped down as chief executive officer of Barclays Plc last year after UK regulators shared with Barclays the preliminary findings of their multi year probe into what he told the bank’s board about his relationship with Epstein.
Staley has said that he knew Epstein since 2000 when he was head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s private bank and was told to strike up a professional relationship with the financial adviser.
“Staley made sure Epstein and his illegal sexual abuse organization was absolutely protected by the bank,” according to the lawsuit filed Nov. 24. A lawyer for Staley declined to comment.
The anonymous claimants are being represented by David Boies of Boies Schiller Flexner, who represented Virginia Giuffre in a case against Prince Andrew that subsequently settled. None of the allegations made against Staley in the suit have been publicly proved.
After reviewing Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Epstein, the New York banking regulators found that “although the bank properly classified Epstein as high-risk, the bank failed to scrutinize the activity in the accounts for the kinds of activity that were obviously implicated by Epstein’s past,” the lawsuit said.
--With assistance from William Shaw and Jonathan Browning.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.