JPMorgan Chase is suing Jes Staley, a former top executive, in an attempt to make him liable for any penalties the US bank might have to pay if it is found to have facilitated Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking crimes in two high-profile lawsuits.
Staley, who is alleged in the lawsuits to have “personally observed” Epstein abusing women, and to have “spent time” with young girls at the disgraced financier’s homes, did not disclose this to JPMorgan, the bank claimed in a court filing made in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday.
He did not make the disclosures “despite having a fiduciary duty” to tell JPMorgan and despite the bank “asking him to offer his views as to whether [it] should retain Epstein as a client”, the lender alleged.
In the complaint, lawyers for JPMorgan claim the lender was deceived by Staley, who allegedly protected Epstein’s relationship with the bank and in doing so violated its code of conduct.
“Staley repeatedly abandoned the interests of [the bank] in pursuit of his own personal interests and benefits and those of Epstein,” the complaint said.
Kathleen Harris, a lawyer for Staley, declined to comment on JPMorgan’s suit.
JPMorgan’s lawsuit marks the latest escalation in an increasingly contentious legal battle over the Wall Street bank’s connections to Epstein, who died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal charges that he sex-trafficked underage girls.
The JPMorgan complaint insists the underlying allegations are “misplaced and without merit” but argues that if the lender is found liable then it is Staley who should be on the hook for any damages. It is also asking the court to order Staley to return his compensation from what the bank described as the “time period of his disloyalty”, from at least 2006 until 2013.
JPMorgan paid Staley more than $80mn from 2006 to 2011, according to regulatory filings.
“The plaintiffs have made troubling allegations concerning the conduct of our former employee Jes Staley, and if true he should be held responsible for his actions,” JPMorgan said in a statement. “At the time, we could not have imagined any of our employees would engage in the type of conduct alleged.”
The detailed allegations about Staley were first made in two separate civil cases against JPMorgan, one brought by an alleged Epstein victim and the other by the US Virgin Islands, where the late financier had a home. Staley is not a defendant in either lawsuit.
The alleged Epstein victim, known as Jane Doe, says in her lawsuit that a friend of Epstein sexually assaulted her using force. JPMorgan said on Wednesday that it believed the friend was Staley.
Staley, a 66-year-old American, got to know Epstein while managing his money at JPMorgan, where he worked for more than 30 years until 2013 — the same year that the bank terminated its relationship with Epstein.
Staley became chief executive of Barclays in 2015 but resigned six years later following a regulatory investigation in the UK into the way he characterised his relationship with Epstein.
Last month, the contents of some of the 1,200 emails exchanged by Staley and Epstein were made public as part of the lawsuits, in which the two men made oblique references to Disney princesses and Staley talked about the “danger” in communicating his feelings to Epstein.
The partially redacted complaint also claimed Epstein had twice sent Staley images of young women, although the photos were not made public.
Brad Edwards, a lawyer for Jane Doe, said the complaint against Staley was JPMorgan “attempting to deflect” blame.
“Every top executive knew exactly who Jeffrey Epstein was and chose to keep him because he was making them money and money was more important than the women being abused,” he said.
Lawyers for Doe and the Virgin Islands have sought to obtain communications from longstanding JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon, as well as force him to provide sworn testimony. The bank has said Dimon “was not involved in any decisions regarding Epstein’s account” and declined to comment on Edwards’ statement.
A federal judge on Thursday granted the Virgin Islands’ request to hand over more documents related to Dimon.