Settlement would compensate victims who say JPMorgan ignored warnings about Epstein’s abuse and kept him as a client.
JPMorgan Chase has agreed in principle to settle a class action lawsuit brought by a victim of Jeffrey Epstein, the US bank said on Monday in a joint statement with the woman’s lawyers.
The settlement resolves one claim against JPMorgan, in a proposed class action by a woman who says Epstein abused her.
Epstein was arrested in 2019 on federal charges accusing him of paying underage girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages and then molesting them at his homes in Florida and New York. He was found dead in jail on August 10 of that year, at age 66. A medical examiner ruled his death a suicide.
“Any association with him (Epstein) was a mistake and we regret it,” JPMorgan said. “We would never have continued to do business with him if we believed he was using our bank in any way to help commit heinous crimes.”
The proposed deal would see the bank pay $290m to end the lawsuit, the New York Times reported, citing David Boies a lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
According to the lawsuits, JPMorgan provided Epstein loans and regularly allowed him to withdraw large sums of cash from 1998 through August 2013 even though it was aware of his participation in sex trafficking. The anonymous victim, referred to as Jane Doe, said she was sexually abused by Epstein from 2006 and 2013.
The largest bank in the United States is still facing a lawsuit by the government of the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned two neighbouring islands and allegedly abused victims in his mansion.
JPMorgan’s litigation against its former executive Jes Staley, who it accuses of concealing what he knew about Epstein, is also ongoing.
Staley has said he regretted befriending Epstein, but denied knowing about his alleged sex trafficking. His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
The proposed class action lawsuit claimed JPMorgan ignored internal warnings about Epstein’s sexual abuses of girls and young women and chose to keep the disgraced financier as a client.
JPMorgan kept Epstein, who was a client of the bank from 1998 until he was dropped in 2013, aboard even after his 2006 arrest on prostitution-related charges and a related guilty plea two years later.
Deutsche Bank, where Epstein was a client from 2013 to 2018, last month agreed to pay $75m to settle a similar lawsuit by women who say they were trafficked by the financier.
“The settlements signal that financial institutions have an important role to play in spotting and shutting down sex trafficking,” Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for the woman known as Jane Doe 1 who sued JPMorgan, said in a statement.
The settlement partially resolves a rare public relations imbroglio for Jamie Dimon, who has been JPMorgan’s chief executive since 2006.
Dimon testified under oath in May that he had barely heard of Epstein until the financier’s July 2019 arrest, and did not recall discussing Epstein’s accounts with other bank officials, including those authorised to terminate Epstein as a client.
Staley was once a close Dimon ally and considered a possible successor as CEO.
Dimon said he asked Staley to leave JPMorgan in 2013, prior to Epstein’s termination, because he was not running its investment bank well. Epstein was not a factor in Staley’s departure, Dimon said.
Documents disclosed recently in the lawsuit show that former JPMorgan counsel Stephen Cutler had requested the bank to cut ties with Epstein, but other executives resisted.