By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co on Wednesday said it should not be held liable for a former top executive’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein in a lawsuit accusing the largest U.S. bank of facilitating its former client’s sex trafficking enterprise.
In a filing in Manhattan federal court, JPMorgan said emails between former executive Jes Staley and Epstein provided no basis for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which filed the lawsuit, to suggest Staley could “detect Epstein’s sex trafficking.”
The bank also said there was no proof Staley’s personal travel to the islands or alleged inappropriate emails were part of his job, and that even assuming Staley helped “direct” Epstein’s sex trafficking “his conduct would be far beyond his remit as a JPMC employee.”
In seeking the dismissal of the “misdirected and deficient” lawsuit, JPMorgan said there was no explanation for how it might have known about and benefited from Epstein’s misconduct by having him as a client from 2000 to 2013.
Lawyers for the U.S. Virgin Islands did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Staley is not a defendant.
Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
JPMorgan’s dismissal motion came one week after a court filing said Staley and Epstein had exchanged about 1,200 emails between 2008 and 2012, including some about young women that contained sexual content.
Epstein had pleaded guilty in 2008 to a Florida state prostitution charge.
Staley, a former JPMorgan private banking chief, has acknowledged having a friendship with Epstein but denied knowing about his alleged crimes.
After leaving JPMorgan, Staley became chief executive of Barclays Plc but resigned in November 2021 amid a dispute with British financial regulators examining his ties to Epstein.
The U.S. Virgin Islands sued JPMorgan for unspecified damages in December 2022, saying the bank should have known about Epstein’s misconduct on a private island he owned there.
Epstein’s victims are also suing JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank AG, where Epstein was a client from 2013 to 2018. Both banks are seeking dismissals.
The case is Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands v JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-10904.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Hogue)