Facing lawsuits over its ties to the disgraced late pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, JPMorgan Chase has turned on a former employee, switching from defending him to demanding he returns $80 million in compensation he was paid to work there for eight years.
The largest investment bank in the world by revenue, JP Morgan was sued in 2022 by the U.S. Virgin Islands and a group of alleged Epstein victims, who accuse it of facilitating the sex offender’s crimes.
Epstein was convicted of sex crimes in 2008 but the bank kept him as a client until 2013, partly because Staley, his private banker, vouched for him.
As pressure on the bank grew, JPMorgan went from defending Staley in recent weeks to blaming him for any Epstein fallout.
JPMorgan wants to make Staley responsible for potential payouts in lawsuits. His compensation amounts to more than $80 million, Bloomberg reported.
An internal email released in the recent lawsuits mentions a review of the Epstein account expected to be done by JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. The bank said it hadn’t seen evidence the review happened. Plaintiffs want to question Dimon in the case but the bank is resisting.
Staley is accused of sexually assaulting one of Epstein’s alleged victims in one of the lawsuits.
The Virgin Islands government claims that Staley was in close contact with Epstein and visited his private island and Palm Beach mansion many times, even while Epstein was in jail.
Documents unsealed in February allege more than 20 sex trafficking victims were paid through J.P. Morgan accounts, ABC affiliate WPBF West Palm Beach reported.
Epstein kept a 92-page “black book” of contacts. His name has been linked to famous friends, associates and acquaintances including former President Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew The Duke of York, New York Daily News former owner Mort Zuckerman, and actor-director Woody Allen.
“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump told New York Magazine in 2002. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
More than 1,000 emails between Epstein and Staley from 2008 to 2012 included shared “discussions of sex with young women,” U.S. Virgin Islands prosecutors said in the civil complaint. The two had a “profound” friendship, according to the suit.
One of the emails asked if the banking executive “needed anything.” Staley replied “Yup.” In another email in July 2010, Staley wrote “Maybe they’re tracking u? That was fun. Say hi to Snow White.” Epstein replied, “W]hat character would you like next?” Staley answered, “Beauty and the Beast.” Epstein said, “well one side is available.”
The bank’s lawsuit demands Staley give back all his compensation from 2006 through 2013. It also wants him to pay for two lawsuits accusing the bank of facilitating Epstein’s crimes.
“Staley’s acts of disloyalty occurred repeatedly, lasted for years, and persisted despite numerous opportunities to correct them,” JPMorgan wrote.
Blaming Staley is a “clever move,” said Mary Dodge, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs. “They have decided to displace the blame and publicly fight the allegations. Staley looks terrible, and they look like the ‘good guys.’”
The suits against JP Morgan claim it knew or should have known about Epstein’s conduct but kept doing business with him.
“To the extent that Staley knew of, participated in, or witnessed sexual abuse associated with Epstein and did not report it to, or actively concealed it from JPMorgan,” it is Staley, and not the bank, who is responsible for injuries Epstein caused, JPMorgan said in its Wednesday filing.
JP Morgan defended Staley until this week, Bloomberg reported on March 8.
Images: Plaintiffs want to question JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon about a review of the Epstein account. (Dimon, Paris, June 29, 2021, AP/Michel Euler) / Sex offender Jeffrey Epstein (New York State Sex Offender Registry/AP, March 28, 2017 / Jes Staley at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit, Oct. 10, 2019, in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)