JPMorgan Chase reached a tentative settlement with sexual abuse victims of Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased financier, after weeks of embarrassing disclosures about the bank’s longstanding relationship with him, the bank and lawyers for the victims said in a statement on Monday.
David Boies, one of the lead lawyers for the victims, said the bank was prepared to pay $290 million to resolve the lawsuit. The parties initially had agreed not to disclose the settlement amount in their joint statement, as it was set to be included in a court filing within the next week.
The proposed deal would settle a lawsuit filed last November in Manhattan federal court by an unidentified woman on behalf of victims who were sexually abused by Mr. Epstein over a roughly 15-year period when they were teenage girls and young women, the suit said. The number of victims could potentially rise to more than 100.
In the statement, the bank and the lawyers for the victims said that they had reached “an agreement in principle to settle” the lawsuit on behalf of the victims and that the “settlement is in the best interests of all parties, especially the survivors who were the victims of Epstein’s terrible abuse.”
The settlement agreement was reached roughly two weeks after Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive and one of Wall Street’s best-known bankers, sat for a daylong deposition in which he said he had barely heard of Mr. Epstein before the financier’s July 2019 arrest on federal sex-trafficking charges.
Mr. Epstein killed himself in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell.
JPMorgan still faces a related lawsuit by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands. That suit remains the biggest outstanding Epstein-related case after years of lawsuits against Mr. Epstein’s estate and Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction in 2021 in Manhattan federal court for helping Mr. Epstein engage in sex trafficking.
The lawsuit filed by the victims claimed that JPMorgan ignored repeated warnings that Mr. Epstein had been trafficking teenage girls and young women for sex, even after he registered as a sex offender and pleaded guilty in a 2008 Florida case to soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl. The complaint said the bank had overlooked red flags in Mr. Epstein’s activity because it valued him as a wealthy client who had access to dozens of even wealthier people.
Court documents and deposition testimony reviewed by The New York Times revealed that bank employees had filed numerous suspicious-activity reports about Mr. Epstein’s repeated large cash withdrawals. The legal documents revealed that after designating Mr. Epstein a “high risk client” in 2006, the bank kept him on as a customer despite media reports detailing allegations of his sexual abuse of teenage girls and evidence that some of the cash withdrawals were for payments to dozens of young women.
JPMorgan provided banking services for Mr. Epstein from roughly 1998 to 2013 — a period in which, the federal authorities and victims have said, some of the worst conduct was committed by the financier, who had palatial homes in Manhattan, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, New Mexico and Paris.
The bank reiterated on Monday what it had said a number of times before about how Mr. Epstein committed “heinous crimes” and “any association with him was a mistake and we regret it.”
The same lawyers for Mr. Epstein’s victims negotiated a tentative $75 million settlement last month with Deutsche Bank, which succeeded JPMorgan as Mr. Epstein’s primary banker. Deutsche, which ended its relationship with Mr. Epstein in late 2018, paid a $150 million fine to New York regulators in 2020 over allegations that it failed to sufficiently police its financial dealings with the disgraced financier among other compliance failures.
The settlements with both banks require approval by Judge Jed Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan. Judge Rakoff is also presiding over the related lawsuit by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Virgin Islands, the U.S. territory in the Caribbean, contends that JPMorgan should pay it damages for enabling Mr. Epstein to set up a sex-trafficking operation on his private island residence off St. Thomas. But JPMorgan, in court papers, has bitterly opposed the lawsuit, arguing that government officials there cozied up to Mr. Epstein for nearly two decades.
Two of Mr. Epstein’s businesses received lucrative tax breaks from the U.S. territory worth tens of millions of dollars. Shortly after JPMorgan ended its relationship with Mr. Epstein, the Virgin Islands approved a first-of-its-kind boutique banking license for Mr. Epstein.
Judge Rakoff had put the lawsuits against JPMorgan on a fast track, with more than a dozen depositions given over the past three months, including the one from Mr. Dimon and another from Albert Bryan Jr., the governor of the Virgin Islands. The deal between JPMorgan and Mr. Epstein’s victims was hammered out as some of the plaintiffs’ lawyers were taking the deposition of James E. Staley, a former JPMorgan executive who had close ties to Mr. Epstein.
In court filings, the Virgin Islands claimed Mr. Epstein and Mr. Staley shared sexually suggestive emails about young women.
Mr. Staley, better known as Jes, has in court papers repeatedly denied doing anything wrong or being aware that Mr. Epstein had sexually abused young women and teenage girls. JPMorgan then sued Mr. Staley seeking to ensure that, if it is determined that he did engage in improper activity, he can be held liable for damages the bank ends up paying.
The victims’ lawyers who were most involved in litigating and negotiating the proposed settlements with the two banks included Mr. Boies, Sigrid McCawley, Brad Edwards and Brittany Henderson.
Mr. Boies said of the proposed settlement with JPMorgan, “It has taken a long time, too long, but today is a great day for Jeffrey Epstein survivors.” Mr. Edwards said the deal went a long way to bringing “full justice” to Mr. Epstein’s many victims.
“The settlements signal that financial institutions have an important role to play in spotting and shutting down sex trafficking,” said Ms. McCawley, who argued before Judge Rakoff that the JPMorgan lawsuit should be treated as a class-action suit. Judge Rakoff approved the class-action status on Monday.
In court papers associated with the proposed settlement with Deutsche Bank, the victims’ lawyers said they expected to seek fees of up to 30 percent. The lawyers are likely to submit a similar fee request in the JPMorgan litigation. Any fee request requires approval by Judge Rakoff.
In the Deutsche settlement, the victims will each be entitled to receive anywhere from $75,000 to $5 million in restitution, according to court filings.
The settlements with the two banks will add to the total relief that the many victims of Mr. Epstein have received in recent years. Mr. Epstein’s estate has paid out about $150 million in restitution to more than 125 victims — many of whom may be eligible to apply for additional compensation from the deals with Deutsche and JPMorgan.
The Virgin Islands, which last year secured a $105 million settlement from Mr. Epstein’s estate, said in a statement that it would “continue to proceed with its enforcement action to ensure full accountability for JPMorgan’s violations of law.”
And on Monday, the Virgin Islands filed a new round of court papers that included emails from JPMorgan employees, in which several argued as far back as 2008 that Mr. Epstein should not be retained as customer.
In July 2011, Stephen Cutler, the bank’s general counsel at the time, wrote an email to Mr. Staley and others at JPMorgan: “This is not an honorable person in any way. He should not be a client.”