JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon talks to reporters as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after an unannounced meeting with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Schumer that was reportedly about the possibility of the U.S. defaulting on its debt, outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, May 17, 2023.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was set to be deposed Friday at his bank’s New York headquarters for lawsuits that accuse the company of facilitating and profiting from sex trafficking by its long-time customer Jeffrey Epstein.
Dimon and JPMorgan, which denies any wrongdoing and liability in the cases, earlier lost an effort to dismiss the suits by the plaintiffs – the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands and an anonymous Epstein accuser.
The suits claim that JPMorgan, the biggest bank in the United States, kept Epstein as a customer even after learning he was being investigated for sexually abusing underage girls in Florida and after he pleaded guilty in a state charge there in 2008 to paying for sex from a minor.
The bank is accused in the complaints in U.S. District Court in Manhattan of doing so in order to keep Epstein, who kept tens of millions of dollars in accounts there, despite internal concerns about his slimy reputation.
The Virgin Islands says Epstein used frequent cash withdrawals he made from those accounts to pay for young women to travel to the American territory so that he and others could abuse them at his residence on a private island he owned.
“Human trafficking was the [principal] business of the accounts Epstein maintained at JPMorgan,” the Virgin Islands’ suit says.
Dimon’s deposition is being taken in private. The questions he is asked and the answers he gives would only become public if they are used in court filings and proceedings, or if they are leaked.
JPMorgan didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
In addition to questioning Dimon under oath, the Virgin Islands has issued a flurry of subpoenas seeking documents related to Epstein and JPMorgan from a number of high-profile people the government suspects Epstein tried to recruit as fellow clients of the bank.
They include Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, former Disney executive Michael Ovitz, Hyatt Hotels executive chairman Thomas Pritzker and Mort Zuckerman, the billionaire real estate investor.
Dimon’s deposition comes more than a week after Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $75 million to Epstein victims to settle a would-be class action lawsuit by one of his accusers. Deutsche Bank had taken on Epstein as a customer after JPMorgan severed ties with him in 2013, after keeping him as a client for 15 years.
JPMorgan has said Dimon had not reviewed Epstein’s accounts when he was a client there from 1998 through 2013, the year that JPMorgan severed its relationship with him.
Epstein died six years later from suicide in a New York jail a month after federal authorities charged him with trafficking girls for sex.
JPMorgan pushes back
JPMorgan, in a related complaint, has said that any civil liability it would have from Epstein’s conduct is the responsibility of its former executive Jes Staley, who was a friend of Epstein and his main business contact at the bank.
Staley, who also denies any wrongdoing, earlier this week lost a bid to dismiss JPMorgan’s complaint against him, which among other things seeks to recoup $80 million in compensation from him.
In addition to trying to shift blame to Staley, JPMorgan this week in a court filing accused the Virgin Islands of being “complicit in the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein.”
The filing said the Virgin Islands looked the other way as Epstein trafficked young women because he was giving high-ranking officials there money, advice and favors.
The filing specifically says that Epstein paid tuition for the children of John de Jongh and his wife, Cecile, when John served as Virgin Islands governor and when Cecile worked for Epstein managing his companies in the territory.
Cecile also allegedly made efforts to secure student visas for young women connected to Epstein, and was his “primary conduit for spreading money and influence throughout the USVI government.”
The Washington Post on Friday published details of a deposition earlier taken of Mary Erdoes, who runs JPMorgan’s asset and wealth management division.
“Oh boy,” Erdoes wrote in a 2011 email to another bank executive after she found out Epstein’s status as a sex offender as a result of his Florid conviction had been affirmed, The Washington Post reported.
The newspaper said that was “at least the sixth time Erdoes … had been alerted to Epstein’s criminal or civil legal trouble for sex crimes.”