A US judge on Monday said JPMorgan Chase must face a lawsuit by the US Virgin Islands accusing the bank of enabling the late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking.
The judge also said JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank must face lawsuits by two women who said Epstein sexually abused them, and who also accused the banks of enabling Epstein.
US District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan dismissed some claims in all three lawsuits, but said the plaintiffs can try to provide that the banks knowingly benefited from participating in Epstein’s sex trafficking venture.
The judge said he would explain his reasons for the rulings in due course.
Epstein had been a client of JPMorgan from 2000 to 2013, and of Deutsche Bank from 2013 to 2018.
Both banks have said they had no legal duty to protect the women from Epstein, and denied accusations they knew about his abuses.
JPMorgan spokeswoman Trish Wexler and Deutsche Bank spokesman Dylan Riddle declined to comment.
Lawyers for the US Virgin Islands and the two women did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Rakoff’s decision means the banks could remain financially liable for their relationships with Epstein, who was a client of JPMorgan from 2000 to 2013 and Deutsche Bank from 2013 to 2018.
The US Virgin Islands accused JPMorgan of missing red flags about Epstein’s misconduct on Little St. James, a private island he owned in the territory.
It has also suggested that JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon was aware of Epstein’s crimes and the bank’s role in advancing them.
In separate lawsuits, the two women, each known as Jane Doe 1, accused JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank of turning a blind eye to Epstein’s abuses because he was an important client, and said numerous cash payments came from the banks to pay Epstein’s victims.
Jane Doe 1 in the JPMorgan case said she was a ballet dancer whom Epstein trafficked from 2006 to 2013. The Jane Doe 1 in the Deutsche Bank case said Epstein sexually abused her from 2003 to 2018. Both women are seeking class-action status.
The litigation drew added attention when Jes Staley, formerly JPMorgan’s private banking chief, was accused in the lawsuits of swapping sexually suggestive messages about young women with the financier, and committing sexual assault himself.
JPMorgan is separately suing Staley for concealing what he knew about Epstein, and seeking for him to return eight years of pay and cover losses in the other lawsuits.
A lawyer for Staley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Staley became Barclays’ chief executive after leaving JPMorgan, but resigned in November 2021 amid regulatory concerns about his relationship with Epstein. JPMorgan lawyers are expected to question him under oath on Thursday and Friday.
Epstein killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.