JPMorgan Chase sued a former top executive on Wednesday and wants him to pay up if the bank is found liable for having provided banking services to Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who died in federal custody in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
The bank filed a third-party complaint against the former executive, James E. Staley, in connection with a lawsuit that the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands filed against it in federal court late last year. JPMorgan has also been sued by an unidentified woman who says that she was a victim of Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking and that the bank did nothing to stop the operation.
JPMorgan said in the filing that Mr. Staley, better known as Jes, should have to reimburse it for any damages if the lawsuit’s allegations that he knew about Mr. Epstein’s trafficking of teenage girls and young women were proved true and he had concealed it from the bank.
The bank, the nation’s largest, filed the indemnification claim against Mr. Staley while denying allegations that it should have known about Mr. Epstein’s activities. It filed a motion last month to have the two lawsuits dismissed.
Mr. Staley worked for JPMorgan from 1979 to 2013 in various jobs and served for nearly eight years in top positions at its private bank and wealth management division. Soon after Mr. Staley left JPMorgan, the bank stopped providing banking services to Mr. Epstein.
The Virgin Islands, in an unredacted court filing last month, said Mr. Staley and Mr. Epstein had swapped sexually suggestive emails about young women even after Mr. Epstein was convicted of sex crimes in 2008.
The U.S. territory has argued that the bank should have been aware of Mr. Epstein’s longstanding abuse of young women and teenage girls because of Mr. Staley’s close relationship with him.
JPMorgan, in its court filing, said that if Mr. Staley had been aware of Mr. Epstein’s sexual abuse of women and hadn’t reported it, the bank should not be liable for any damages.
In 2015, Barclays hired Mr. Staley as its chief executive. But the British bank pushed him out in 2021 during a regulatory inquiry into whether he had fully disclosed the extent of his ties to Mr. Epstein before joining Barclays.
A lawyer for Mr. Staley declined to comment. Mr. Staley has always said that he was unaware of Mr. Epstein’s activities and that he rarely saw him after leaving JPMorgan.
The Virgin Islands says JPMorgan should have known about Mr. Epstein’s activities on Little St. James Island, an island that he owned in the territory, off St. Thomas. Dozens of women have come forward to say they were victims of Mr. Epstein’s sexual abuse as teenagers or young adults.
His estate has paid out more than $125 million in settlements and recently agreed to pay more than $105 million to the Virgin Islands government to settle another lawsuit filed by the attorney general’s office.