The US Virgin Islands government said in a lawsuit on Friday that it is seeking at least $190 million in damages from JPMorgan Chase for the bank’s failure to disclose and report a sex trafficking operation run by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein on US soil. .
Virgin Islands attorneys disclosed the amount in a legal filing in response to a request from a Manhattan federal judge to oversee a lawsuit it filed against JPMorgan last year, which alleged the bank turned a blind eye to Mr. Epstein’s activities.
In the filing, the Virgin Islands Attorney General’s Office said it also wanted the country’s largest bank to put in place new policies to prevent it from filing Financial services for human traffickers.
“We are pursuing this enforcement action because JPMorgan Chase’s institutional failure enabled Jeffrey Epstein to traffic in sex,” said the US Virgin Islands Attorney General, Ariel Smith, in a statement.
“This document does not reflect the nature of the settlement talks,” said Patricia Wexler, a JPMorgan spokeswoman. She also said that the Virgin Islands’ legal theories were “not well founded and are being challenged by JPM in court”.
The bank argued, in court papers, that the Virgin Islands government had done little to deter any illegal activity by Mr. 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 that was filed last year on behalf of several victims of Mr Epstein’s sexual assault. The lawsuit, filed by lawyers for Mr Epstein’s victims, has been joined for purposes of legal discovery to the lawsuit from the Virgin Islands. The Bank and the Virgin Islands government have not yet reached a settlement.
The lawsuit, filed from the Virgin Islands, is tentatively scheduled for trial in October in federal court in Manhattan.
The Virgin Islands said on Friday that its lawsuit was constituted as an enforcement action against the bank and that it was entitled to a substantial relief to compensate it and deter future conduct of the bank. The $190 million includes fines and cancellation of fees earned from business that the Virgin Islands alleges Mr. Epstein directed to JPMorgan.
Last year, US Lands 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.
At least 200 women — many of them teenagers at the time — were sexually assaulted by the financier at his private residence in the Virgin Islands, as well as at his homes in Manhattan, Florida and elsewhere, said attorneys for Mr. Epstein’s victims. Mr. Epstein has maintained a private residence on an island off St. Thomas for nearly 20 years and has run his investment advisory business out of the Virgin Islands as well.
The Virgin Islands are assisted in all lawsuits relating to Mr. Epstein by attorneys from Motley Rice, a litigation law firm based in South Carolina. The Motley Fool has a retainer agreement with the Virgin Islands government that entitles it to a portion of each settlement and recovery as compensation.