Wall Street bank JPMorgan pays $290m to Epstein’s Victims to settle lawsuit

People walk by JP Morgan Chase & Company headquarters in New York, August 14, 2013.—AFP 

JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest banks in the United States, has reached a settlement to pay $290 million in a class action lawsuit brought by victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking scheme. 

The agreement was disclosed on Monday by the victims’ attorney, putting an end to a legal battle that accused the bank of facilitating Epstein’s abuse while prioritising financial gain over red flags.

In response to the original complaint, JPMorgan argued that Epstein himself was responsible for the heinous acts and claimed to have severed ties with him once they became aware of his wrongdoing. However, the settlement suggests a resolution in the best interests of all parties involved, especially the survivors who endured Epstein’s terrible abuse.

The $290 million figure was revealed by plaintiffs’ attorney David Boies through a spokesperson. The settlement is still subject to court approval. This development follows a similar settlement reached in May, where Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $75 million to resolve litigation brought by another victim.

These legal actions have forced Wall Street banks to confront their involvement in the Epstein scandal, which revolves around the disgraced financier who died in prison in 2019. On the same day as the settlement announcement, US District Judge Jed Rakoff granted class-action certification to the claims, recognising the numerous victims represented by the lead plaintiff, Jane Doe 1, and others in a similar situation.

In his ruling, Judge Rakoff emphasised that the core of the case involved JPMorgan’s alleged support of Epstein’s sex trafficking activities while having knowledge or should have had knowledge of their operation. The decision to certify the class was based on common sets of laws and facts shared by the victims.

The law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, representing the plaintiffs, celebrated the settlement as a significant step towards justice. Attorney Sigrid McCawley described the settlements as life-changing and historic for the survivors, indicating that financial institutions have an important role to play in identifying and preventing sex trafficking.

JPMorgan Chase expressed regret for its association with Epstein, acknowledging that his behaviour was monstrous. The bank stated that any association with him was a mistake, and they would never have continued to do business with him if they believed he was involved in heinous crimes. The bank had a long-standing relationship with Epstein, starting in 1998 but terminating in 2013.

While this settlement concludes one aspect of the case, litigation between JPMorgan and former executive Jes Staley, as well as cases involving the US Virgin Islands, are still ongoing. Attorneys for the victims have requested further testimony from JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, alleging that the bank strategically withheld documents prior to his deposition.

Jeffrey Epstein, previously convicted in Florida in 2008, served a short jail sentence under a secret plea deal for paying young girls for massages. He later faced charges of trafficking underage girls for sex but died by suicide in a New York jail cell in August 2019 at the age of 66.

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