Lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein’s survivors made their most direct accusations yet against financier Jes Staley, accusing the former JPMorgan Chase executive turned Barclays CEO of “participating” in the abuse.
“There is no doubt that there was sex trafficking,” David Boies, a prominent attorney for Epstein victims, said at a hearing Monday.
“There’s no question that what JPMorgan did made that possible,” Boies added.
Late last week, JPMorgan sued Staley — who once led its wealth management and investment banking businesses — alleging that the executive “concealed his personal activities” with Epstein. Boies on Monday accused Staley of sexually abusing an Epstein victim.
If those allegations are true, JPMorgan lawyer Felicia Ellsworth said they are “abhorrent” — but she said they fall short of sex trafficking.
“It’s sexual assault,” she said, referring to what Staley is accused of doing. Staley has not faced any criminal charges in connection with the case.
The distinction is crucial because Epstein survivors accused the bank of violating the Human Trafficking Protection Act, the first comprehensive federal law addressing human trafficking. The law punishes anyone who “benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value” from a commercial sexual act that stems from “coercion, fraud, coercion.”
Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who has presided over at least three active and one settled case involving Epstein’s finances, read the text of that statute aloud in court. He suggested that the statute appears to fit the bill for the claims of the lawsuit.
The roughly 90-minute hearing ended without a ruling, which Rakoff said he expects to issue by the end of the month.
Boies and his co-lawyer Sigrid McCawley hope to persuade a federal judge to green light their lawsuits, which accuse JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank of “complicity” with Epstein. The banks handled Epstein’s finances at various times in the late pedophile’s life, including periods after Epstein’s prosecution in Florida.
JPMorgan and Deutsche asked the judge to dismiss the survivors’ lawsuits.
In Deutsche’s case, the bank points to a settlement agreement in which one of the survivors is printed with Epstein’s estate.
The German lender’s lawyer James P. Dowden invoked the settlement’s broad release in court and also argued that simply alleging that Deutsche ignored red flags would not have been enough. The victims had to show more direct involvement.
McCawley alleged that Deutsche specifically facilitated human trafficking.
“This was a quid pro quo,” she declared. “The bank was very, very incentivized to make sure this trade continued.”
In addition to the lawsuit filed by the Epstein victims against the banks, the US Virgin Islands government filed another against JPMorgan specifically. Unsealed allegations from that trial place Staley inside Epstein’s private island at the time Epstein himself was imprisoned for soliciting a minor for prostitution.
“So when hell breaks loose lol[o]look and the world is crumbling, I’ll come here and be at peace,” Staley Epstein wrote on Nov. 1, 2009, during Epstein’s sentencing. “At the moment I’m in the hot tub with a glass of white wine. This is a great place. Really fantastic. Next time we’ll be here together. I owe you a lot. And I value our friendship very much. I have few that deep.”
That lawsuit gave the public insight into the 1,200 messages Staley and Epstein sent each other over the years, including one that asked Epstein to “Say hello to Snow White.”
“[W]Hat grade you want next time?” Epstein allegedly replied.
Staley replied, “Beauty and the Beast,” and Epstein responded, “well one side is available,” the lawsuit states.
Staley’s attorney did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
In late January, Rakoff also signed a $26 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank shareholders who claimed the German lender turned a blind eye to the activities of Epstein and Russian oligarchs.
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