JP Morgan sues Jes Staley for Jeffrey Epstein links

New York court filing claims that former banking executive observed the trafficking of an underaged girl

Barclays' former chief executive Jes Staley at 10 Downing Street in London, 2018. Reuters
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JP Morgan Chase is suing former high-level executive Jes Staley over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, naming him as the official involved in a sexual assault case against the firm, court filings have shown.

The financial services company was facing legal proceedings in cases brought forward by the US Virgin Islands and an unnamed woman who said she was a victim of Epstein's sex-trafficking scheme, which involved a JP Morgan employee.

The defendant, known only as Jane Doe 1, alleged that Epstein's scheme had been aided by the firm providing him with financial services while knowing — through the employee — about his criminal activities.

In a New York federal court filing on Wednesday, the Wall Street behemoth identified Mr Staley — whom it employed from 1979 to 2013 — as the representative in question. Mr Staley later became chief executive of Barclays before resigning from the UK bank in 2021.

The original lawsuit alleges that Mr Staley “personally observed Doe as a sex trafficking and abuse victim at times including through his departure from JP Morgan in 2013".

While JP Morgan does not admit to any of the charges in the original filing, its lawsuit would make Staley directly liable for any penalties if the firm is held responsible.

“At all times during his employment, Staley had a duty of loyalty to JPMC [JP Morgan], and he was required to act in good faith in JPMC's best interests,” the firm said. It added that this included disclosing any facts that could damage the company “financially or reputationally”.

Mr Staley affirmed this by signing an annual code of conduct, the firm said.

“To the extent that Staley knew of, participated in, or witnessed sexual abuse associated with Epstein and did not report it to, actively concealed it from, or misrepresented his knowledge to JPMC, Staley, not JPMC, is responsible for any injuries Epstein may have caused to Doe,” the firm said.

Mr Staley stepped down as chief executive of British bank Barclays in 2021 following an investigation into his links with Epstein.

A lawyer for Mr Staley declined to comment to AFP.

Barclays suspended £22 million ($26 million) of bonuses owed to its former chief executive but stressed that watchdogs have made no findings that he saw or was aware of Epstein's crimes.

Mr Staley has previously said his last contact with Epstein was in 2015.

The presiding judge in the litigation, US District Judge Jed Rakoff, on Thursday ordered JP Morgan to produce documents regarding JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon's response to the case sought by the Virgin Islands.

Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages, but served only 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal.

Later facing charges of trafficking underage girls for sex, he died by suicide in a New York jail in August 2019.

Updated: March 09, 2023, 11:50 PM