Jeffrey Epstein victims’ lawyers have made the most straightforward allegations so far against financier Jes Staley, accusing the former top executive at JPMorgan Chase, who has become chief executive at Barclays, of “participating” in the abuse.
“There is no doubt that there was sex trafficking,” said David Boies, a prominent attorney for the victims at Monday’s hearing. “There is no doubt that what JPMorgan did made that possible.”
Last week, JPMorgan sued Staley, who was in charge of the bank’s asset management and investment banking businesses, claiming that the executive had “concealed his personal activities” with Epstein. Boies accused Staley Monday of sexually assaulting one of Epstein’s victims.
If the allegations are true, JPMorgan attorney, Felicia Ellsworth, said, it is “abhorrent,” but it does not rise to the level of sexual trafficking.
“It is sexual assault,” she said, referring to the things that Staley is accused of doing. Staley has thus far faced no criminal charges related to the case. The distinction is important, for Epstein survivors accuse the bank of violating the Anti-Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the first comprehensive federal legislation addressing human smuggling. The law holds responsible anyone who “benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value” from a commercial sex act stemming from “force, fraud, coercion.”
Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who has presided over at least three active cases, and a settled case, concerning Epstein’s finances, read the text of the statute at trial. He suggested the statute seemed to be tailor-made to address the claims of the suit. The approximately 90-minute hearing ended without a decision, which Rakoff said he expected to make by the end of the month.
Boies and co-counsel, Sigrid McCawley, want to convince a federal judge to approve their suit, accusing JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank of “complicity” in Epstein’s actions. The banks handled financing for Epstein at various points during the late paedophile’s life, including periods following Epstein’s Florida trial.
JPMorgan and Deutsche asked a judge to throw out the victims’ suit. Deutsche pointed to the settlement agreement that one of the survivors had entered into with Ebstein’s estate.
The German bank’s lawyer James P. Dowden invoked broader settlement releases in the trial, as well as asserting that merely alleging Deutsche ignored red flags was insufficient. The victims would need to demonstrate a more direct involvement. McCawley alleged that Deutche had facilitated trafficking.
“This was a quid pro quo,” she declared. “The bank was very, very incentivized to make sure this trafficking continued.”
In addition to a suit brought against the bank by the victims of Epstein, another suit was brought by the U.S. Virgin Islands government specifically against JPMorgan Chase.
Unsealed allegations from this suit placed Staley on Epstein’s private island during a period when Epstein himself was imprisoned for soliciting minors for prostitution.
That suit gave public access to the 1,200 texts that Staley and Epstein sent to one another over a period of years.
“So when all hell breaks lo[o]se, and the world is crumbling, I will come here, and be at peace,” Staley wrote Epstein on Nov. 1, 2009, during the time of Epstein’s sentence. “Presently, I’m in the hot tub with a glass of white wine. This is an amazing place. Truly amazing. Next time, we’re here together. I owe you much. And I deeply appreciate our friendship. I have few so profound.”
In one text, Staley asked Epstein to “Say hi Snow White.”
“[W]hat character would you like next?” Epstein allegedly responded.
Staley answered “Beauty and the Beast.”
Epstein replied: “well one side is available,” according to the lawsuit.
In late January, Rakoff also approved a $26 million settlement agreement in a suit brought by Deutsche Bank shareholders. They argued the German lender knew about but ignored the activities of Epstein and Russian oligarchs.