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Former JP Morgan executive being deposed in Epstein case

By Sarah May on
 March 18, 2023

Fallout from the various scandals involving the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein continues to ensnare a range of high-profile individuals, and as The Hill reports, former J.P. Morgan Chase (JPMC) executive Jes Staley is set to be deposed over his links to the disgraced billionaire.

The outlet cited a Reuters report indicating that Staley would face questioning by JPMC attorneys next week as legal wrangling persists over the company's potential liability for ties its executives are accused of having maintained with Epstein.

Epstein-related battles heat up

Staley's relationship with Epstein took on heightened significance late last year when the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands filed suit against JPMC, claiming that the financial powerhouse reaped benefits from the sex trafficking activities of their client, as CBS News noted at the time.

The lawsuit also alleges that the company assisted in concealing the abuse and exploitation that went on at Epstein's Little St. James Island.

According to allegations in the complaint, JPMC continued to deliver services to Epstein after he was registered as a sex offender in the Virgin Islands, and the banking firm is also accused of intentionally ignoring federal records and reporting requirements that potentially could have shed light on Epstein's conduct before they were ultimately detected by authorities.

The lawsuit came just weeks after two of Epstein's alleged victims sued JPMC and Deutsche Bank on claims that the institutions profited from their ties to Epstein and the criminal activity he orchestrated.

JPMC sues Staley

Amid that backdrop, earlier this month, JPMC sued Staley himself, alleging that he wrongly failed to disclose the extent of his ties to Epstein, as the BBC reported.

The banking behemoth is aiming to establish Staley's liability for any penalties or damages it may incur as a result of the lawsuits filed by the U.S. Virgin Islands and by Epstein's accusers.

In its court filing against Staley, JPMC asserted, “Staley persisted for years – from at least 2006 until his departure from JPMC in 2013 – in protecting Epstein in the face of attempts by JPMC to end the company's relationship with Epstein, omitted material information, made misrepresentations in the process, and continued to do so.”

The complaint continued, “As a result of Staley's faithless service, JPMC is entitled to recover all compensation paid to Staley during the time period of his disloyalty.”

Dimon under scrutiny

Though JPMC has argued that Staley is to blame for the legal jeopardy in which it now finds itself, attorneys for the U.S. Virgin Islands have suggested that the rot at the firm went much higher and that its chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, should also accept responsibility, as Law & Crime notes.

According to lawyers for the Virgin Islands, the facts they have gleaned about Staley's involvement with Epstein came from internal JPMC files, arguing, “everything we knew, JP Morgan knew.”

“Everything that Mr. Staley did was in the scope of his employment and thus imputed to JP Morgan,” the lawyers contend, and therefore the company itself is liable for the damages resulting from Epstein's activities.

In support of that position, the lawyers cited an exchange from internal company files in which Staley wrote to Epstein in 2009, while he was incarcerated, “So when all hell breaks lo[o]se, and the world is crumbling, I will come [to Epstein's private island] and be at peace. 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.”

Long odds for clawback

Though it remains to be seen what information is gleaned from the imminent deposition of Staley, JPMC's odds of success in clawing back the massive amount in prior compensation from its former executive are viewed by many legal experts as rather long, as the Financial Times notes.

Even so, JPMC is now contending that Staley misled management when he championed Epstein's continued status as a client of the firm and also that he personally witnessed the conduct that led to the billionaire's eventual downfall.

Despite that new tack, Emory University law professor George Georgiev says JPMC is arguing inconsistent positions, in that “[t]hey are suggesting that [Staley] had some sort of unique knowledge that nobody else had and that JPMorgan could not have had through its formal channels. That's possible, but ideally, [know-your-customer] procedures should not depend on one person.”

The tangle of lawsuits involving Staley, his former employer, and the U.S. Virgin Islands underscores the enduring harm wrought by Epstein and his associates and whether any, all, or most of those victimized by his conduct over the course of many years will ever achieve a real degree of justice, only time will tell.