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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, April 12, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsV.I. Seeks JPMorgan Documents Relating to $1.1M in Epstein Payments

V.I. Seeks JPMorgan Documents Relating to $1.1M in Epstein Payments

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, where the V.I. government's case against JPMorgan Chase Bank is being heard. (Shutterstock image)
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, where the V.I. government’s case against JPMorgan Chase Bank is being heard. (Shutterstock image)

The V.I. government has asked the judge in its lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase to compel the bank to produce documents relating to more than $1.1 million in payments it handled from Jeffrey Epstein to girls or women — many with Eastern European surnames — after he was terminated as a client in 2013.

The transactions include more than $320,000 in payments to numerous individuals that JPMorgan had not previously identified, according to the motion filed in Manhattan federal court late Monday afternoon.

Additionally, JPMorgan waited until the end of fact discovery — the period when both parties exchange information related to a case — to disclose the existence of the communications summary between senior executives and Epstein that the bank prepared in 2019 as part of its “Project Jeep” internal investigation into its relationship with the disgraced financier, and did not produce a related timeline of financial transactions until July 14, more than a month after the end of the discovery period, the motion alleges.

The internal email correspondence between former JPMorgan executive Jes Staley and Epstein included in the Project Jeep investigation — so named for “Jeffrey Ep\. Epstein Project” — referenced a timeline of their transactions, according to the motion.

“On June 5, 2023, the USVI specifically requested the referenced ‘timeline’ of Epstein and Staley transactions and identified it as being obviously responsive to USVI’s discovery requests,” the motion states.

“When JPMorgan did not respond, USVI sent reminder emails about this matter on June 7, June 16, June 20, and June 23, 2023. JPMorgan responded on June 24, 2023, stating that ‘[w]e have located the information, but it is not easily extracted’ and that ‘we think it will all be solvable and we should be able to produce it this week,” according to the motion.

On June 30, one month after the end of fact discovery, “JPMorgan produced a spreadsheet listing the dates, beneficiaries — but not senders — and dollar values of over 9,000 transactions payable to Epstein-related persons that occurred between 2005 and 2019 and had a combined value of over $2.4 billion. Many of the entries reflected accounts and payments, numbering in the thousands and totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars in value, of which USVI had no prior knowledge or information from JPMorgan’s responses and productions during the fact discovery period,” the government alleges.

After “considerable back and forth,” on July 14 JPMorgan produced a spreadsheet with additional fields for the transactions in the timeline spreadsheet, including fields showing the senders and dates of payments, the motion states.

The data includes transactions from multiple Epstein-related individuals, including Staley, biotech venture capitalist Boris Nikolic, and billionaire Leon Black — who recently paid the V.I. government $62.5 million to be released from any claims related to Epstein — that JPMorgan never previously disclosed, according to the motion.

The data also reveals that JPMorgan processed more than $1.1 million in payments from Epstein to girls or women — many with Eastern European surnames — after Epstein was terminated by JPMorgan, including over $320,000 in payments to Eastern European women for whom JPMorgan had not previously identified payments, the government alleges.

Beyond compelling JPMorgan to produce the documents, the V.I. government is asking Judge Jed Rakoff to impose monetary sanctions against the bank, “given the pattern of late disclosure previously noted by the Court,” it said.

While both sides have been working cooperatively over the past two weeks to resolve their differences without the court’s intervention, JPMorgan “is now refusing to respond to the USVI’s questions regarding the transactional data” it produced on July 14 that reveals the $1.1 million in payments, the motion states.

In a July 18 email included as an exhibit in Monday’s filing, attorney Jake Tuttle Newman of WilmerHale, the law firm representing the bank, accuses the V.I. government of “moving goal posts” with continual requests for more information and attempts to reopen closed issues.

“We have now had multiple meet-and-confers and email conversations, and, in the interest in trying to avoid a discovery dispute, JPMC has produced voluminous data that we maintain it had no obligation to produce,” Newman wrote to Paige Boggs of Motley Rice, the law firm representing the V.I. government.

“If you have a narrow data request that fully resolves all open issues, we are willing to consider it with our client. But we are not interested in re-opening discovery, entering into stipulations, or continuing to litigate discovery,” Newman wrote. “Let me know if you have interest in that, but we have otherwise reached impasse.”

The V.I. government contends that the information it requests is “directly responsive to numerous discovery requests … that seek documents concerning JPMorgan’s knowledge that Epstein was engaged in human trafficking, JPMorgan’s monitoring of Epstein’s accounts, retrospective analyses relating to Epstein, and financial records for Epstein-related individuals,” according to the motion.

“JPMorgan claims this information was not disclosed earlier because it was not in a custodial production and/or did not relate to individuals specifically identified by the USVI as related to Epstein. The USVI has repeatedly made clear that its discovery requests are not limited to individuals it specifically identified as being related to Epstein. The USVI specifically identified the individuals it knew were related to Epstein to make its discovery requests clearer — not relieve JPMorgan of its duty to produce known relevant documents,” the motion states.

“There is no legitimate reason for JPMorgan failing to identify payments to girls or women the bank itself identified as being related to Epstein — and potential evidence of Epstein’s sex trafficking venture — years before receiving the USVI’s discovery requests,” according to the motion.

Moreover, it is “still unclear whether JPMorgan has disclosed all payments from Epstein to girls or women or other information relating to the review JPMorgan conducted after Epstein’s 2019 arrest [on federal sex-trafficking charges]. Even if it has, the USVI has not been able to question any witnesses regarding these newly disclosed payments or provide them to experts for inclusion in their reports,” the motion states.

“The USVI does not believe, at this late date, with so many issues left unresolved, that further negotiation amongst the parties would be productive,” the government said.

The V.I. Justice Department is asking Rakoff to compel JPMorgan to produce, within five days, all documents and information concerning Project Jeep or any other investigation that occurred after Epstein’s 2019 arrest; and all financial records for any newly disclosed girls or women to whom Epstein made payments.

“To the extent JPMorgan has already produced the relevant documents and information, JPMorgan shall provide a written certification to the USVI stating that fact,” the motion states.

The government also wants JPMorgan to stipulate that any newly produced documents are admissible as business records, or to provide a corporate representative to testify regarding the documents in a two-hour deposition.

Once it has received all the relevant documents, the government is asking for five days to supplement its expert reports accordingly.

The government’s complaint, filed Dec. 27 in Manhattan federal court, claims JPMorgan violated the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act in its services to Epstein, whom it kept as a client following his 2008 conviction in Florida for procuring a minor for prostitution, after which he was required to register as a sex offender.

Epstein died by apparent suicide in August 2019 while in custody in New York on federal sex-trafficking charges. His primary residence was Little St. James, his private island estate off St. Thomas.

JPMorgan has long contended that it stopped doing business with Epstein after dropping him as a client in 2013, and that the V.I. government is equally complicit for fostering a climate in which Epstein could commit his alleged human trafficking crimes, by granting his businesses lucrative tax benefits through the Economic Development Commission and through lax enforcement of the territory’s sex offender laws.

JPMorgan in March filed a third-party lawsuit against its former executive Staley, alleging he thwarted the bank’s efforts to sever ties with Epstein and should pay if the V.I. government prevails in its suit. Rakoff in April denied Staley’s motion to dismiss the suit.

The case is scheduled for trial on Oct. 23.

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