Top Banker Talked of Young Women With Jeffrey Epstein, Court Filing Says
The former top JPMorgan Chase executive responsible for the bank’s 15-year relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein swapped sexually suggestive emails about young women with him — even after Mr. Epstein had been convicted of sex crimes in 2008, according to a filing Wednesday in a lawsuit against JPMorgan in federal court.
The document bolstered claims in the original complaint, filed in late December, that James E. Staley, who was the lead private banker of JPMorgan, and Mr. Epstein were unusually close and that the bank should have been aware of the relationship. The two men exchanged more than 1,000 emails, according to the court filing.
Mr. Staley, who goes by Jes, later became the chief executive of the British bank Barclays. But in 2021, the bank pushed him out in the swirl of a regulatory inquiry into his years-earlier relationship with Mr. Epstein and whether he had fully disclosed the extent of those ties before joining Barclays.
Lawyers for the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands said in the amended civil complaint that Mr. Epstein had emailed Mr. Staley “photos of young women in seductive poses,” and that the two had engaged in “discussions of sex with young women.” The complaint is against JPMorgan, and Mr. Staley is not a defendant.
The lawsuit said, “JPMorgan had a more than close-up view of Epstein’s sex-trafficking” of young women because of Mr. Staley’s close relationship to Mr. Epstein.
The original complaint was heavily redacted, with much of the more salacious allegations involving Mr. Staley hidden from public view until Wednesday.
In December, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands sued JPMorgan in Manhattan, saying the bank should have known about Mr. Epstein’s activities on Little St. James Island, an island off St. Thomas that he owned. Dozens of women have come forward to say they were victims of Mr. Epstein’s sexual abuse as teenagers or young adults.
His estate has paid out more than $125 million in settlements and recently agreed to pay more than $105 million to the Virgin Islands government to settle another lawsuit filed by the attorney general’s office.
JPMorgan has moved to dismiss the Virgin Islands suit. Mr. Staley has confirmed that he was friendly with Mr. Epstein, but said he had never known of any allegations beyond Mr. Epstein’s earlier guilty plea. Mr. Epstein died of an apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.
JPMorgan and a lawyer for Mr. Staley declined to comment.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the governor of the Virgin Islands, Albert Bryan, fired Denise N. George as attorney general on New Year’s Eve. The firing was partly over tensions arising from Ms. George’s handling of a three-year investigation into Mr. Epstein’s dealings in the Virgin Islands. An interim attorney general, who was one of Ms. George’s deputies, has continued the lawsuit.
Unlike some of Mr. Epstein’s other high-profile associates, Mr. Staley maintained a relationship with the financier after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to a prostitution charge involving an underage girl. In 2013, Mr. Epstein listed Mr. Staley as a reference in an application for a banking license from the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands’ filing this week adds to the evidence of an extensive relationship between the two men.
In one exchange before Mr. Staley visited Mr. Epstein on Little St. James in August 2009, Mr. Epstein asked if the banker needed anything, and Mr. Staley replied simply, “Yup.”
“Soon after, JPMorgan wired $3,000 from an Epstein account” to an Eastern European woman, prosecutors said.
About a year later, Mr. Staley emailed Mr. Epstein after another visit to say: “That was fun. Say hi to Snow White.” Prosecutors said the reference and another one to a Disney princess were code words for young women or girls.