The government of the US Virgin Islands said in a court filing on Friday that it is seeking at least $190 million in fines from JPMorgan Chase for failing to detect and report the sex trafficking operation run by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. in the territory of the USA.
Virgin Islands lawyers disclosed the amount in a legal filing in response to a request by the federal judge in Manhattan overseeing the lawsuit he filed against JPMorgan last year, who claimed the bank turned a blind eye to Epstein’s activities.
In the filing, the Virgin Islands attorney general’s office said it also wants the country’s largest bank to establish new policies to prevent it from providing financial services to human traffickers.
“We are taking this enforcement action because JPMorgan Chase’s institutional failure enabled the sex trafficking of Jeffrey Epstein,” US Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith said in a statement.
Patricia Wexler, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan, said: “This document does not reflect the nature of the liquidation talks.” She also said the Virgin Islands legal theories “were not well founded and are being challenged by JPM in court.”
The bank, in court documents, argued that the Virgin Islands government did little to deter any illegal activity carried out by Epstein at his private residence on the island off St. Thomas.
JPMorgan Chase has already agreed to pay $290 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed last year on behalf of Epstein’s many victims of sexual abuse. The lawsuit, brought by lawyers for Mr. Epstein’s victims, was joined for legal discovery purposes with the lawsuit brought by the Virgin Islands. The bank and the Virgin Islands government have yet to reach an agreement.
The lawsuit brought by the Virgin Islands is tentatively scheduled for trial in October in Manhattan federal court.
The Virgin Islands said Friday that its lawsuit is designed as an enforcement action against the bank and that it is entitled to substantial compensation to compensate it and deter future conduct by the bank. The $190 million includes fines and the return of fees obtained from businesses that the Virgin Islands say Epstein directed to JPMorgan.
Last year, the US territory reached a $105 million settlement with the estate of Mr. Epstein, who committed suicide in August 2019 while in federal custody on sex trafficking charges.
Lawyers for Epstein’s victims have said at least 200 women, many of them teenagers at the time, were sexually abused by the financier at his private residence in the Virgin Islands, as well as at their homes in Manhattan, Florida and elsewhere. . Mr. Epstein maintained a private island residence near St. Thomas for nearly 20 years and also conducted his investment advisory businesses from the Virgin Islands.
The Virgin Islands is being assisted in all litigation involving Mr. Epstein by attorneys from Motley Rice, a South Carolina-based plaintiff’s law firm. Motley has a retainer agreement with the Virgin Islands government that entitles it to receive a portion of each settlement and recovery as compensation.