By Jonathan Stamp
NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase said the US Virgin Islands had given Jeffrey Epstein more than $300 million in tax incentives and waived sex offender surveillance obligations to protect the disgraced late financier when he gave top officials money and gifts gave.
In a court filing Tuesday night, the largest US bank detailed how Epstein allegedly paid law enforcement agencies such as the Virgin Islands Police Department.
JPMorgan also claimed in the filings that Epstein has ties to US Virgin Islands officials, including former first lady Cecile de Jongh, who the bank says knew of Epstein's crimes.
US Virgin Islands spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment after the close of business. Territory police and de Jongh did not immediately respond to similar requests.
JPMorgan's filing, redacted versions of which have already been filed, is part of its defense of a U.S. Virgin Islands lawsuit in a Manhattan federal court over its relationship with Epstein, a client from 1998 to 2013.
The area where Epstein owned two neighboring islands has accused JPMorgan of facilitating Epstein's sex crimes by providing banking services and allowing him to pay his victims.
Epstein died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 at the age of 66 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
EPSTIN'S “BONA-FIDE” RESIDENCE
JPMorgan had described a “quid pro quo” relationship between Epstein and US Virgin Islands officials like de Jongh, whose husband John served as governor from 2007 to 2015.
The bank said Cecile de Jongh ran Epstein's local businesses for eight years and helped arrange visas for some victims in exchange for Epstein providing a salary, bonuses and tuition for her children's schools.
The filing described that Epstein's Financial Trust Co, also known as Southern Trust Co, received $219.8 million in tax benefits from the U.S. Virgin Islands from 1999 to 2012 and $80.6 million from 2013 to 2018 dollars received.
In relation to some benefits, the bank said Cecile de Jongh confirmed in 2009 that Epstein was a “good faith resident” even though he was serving a 13-month sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to prostitution in Florida in 2008 .
JPMorgan also said that despite its sex offender status, the territory has waived restrictions on Epstein's ability to travel.
It said that on multiple occasions, the territory's Department of Justice failed to provide timely updates on Epstein's status under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, “something Epstein even raised personally with the USVI DOJ.”
The bank also said that “Epstein was often absent” when the Territory checked him at his home in what JPMorgan described as “casual” inspections.
JPMorgan's latest disclosures came a day after the US Virgin Islands released a 22-page document the bank produced in late 2019 following Epstein's death.
The document detailed Epstein's close ties to former JPMorgan private banking chief Jes Staley, including dozens of messages between them or involving other bank officials.
JPMorgan reached a $290 million settlement last week to settle a lawsuit brought by dozens of Epstein accusers who say the financier molested them as teenagers or young women.
The bank wants Staley to recover its losses from this lawsuit and the US Virgin Islands lawsuit.
Staley left JPMorgan in 2013 and later served as CEO of Barclays for six years. He has expressed regret at his friendship with Epstein and denied knowing about his crimes.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Gerry Doyle)