JPMorgan wealth CEO Erdoes says bank knew of Epstein sex accusations in 2006, USVI alleges

Charges against Jeffrey Epstein were announced on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.

Stephanie Keith | Getty Images News | Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase was aware in 2006 of accusations that disgraced former financier Jeffrey Epstein paid to have underaged girls brought to his home, according to the latest allegations in a high-profile legal case.

A filing released Wednesday as part of a lawsuit begun last year by the U.S. Virgin Islands contained fresh revelations about internal discussions at the biggest U.S. bank by assets tied to Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in 2019.

Mary Callahan Erdoes, a veteran JPMorgan executive who became head of the bank’s giant asset and wealth management division in 2009, was recently interviewed under oath in the case.

She “admitted in her deposition that JPMorgan was aware by 2006 that Epstein was accused of paying cash to have underage girls and young women brought to his home,” according to the filing.

Erdoes was referring to accusations gleaned from news reports, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. New York-based JPMorgan declined to comment on the filing.

The latest filing details the extent to which JPMorgan executives wrestled with thorny questions tied to banking Epstein, who was convicted of sex crimes in 2008. Despite concerns raised in 2006, the bank served Epstein for another seven years. The scope of the case appeared to have widened in recent weeks as a series of bold-faced names from the business world, including Google founder Sergey Brin and former Disney executive Michael Ovitz were set to be served subpoenas in the case.

‘Without merit’

Late last year, the U.S. Virgin Islands and a group of alleged Epstein victims sued JPMorgan, accusing it of facilitating the sex offender’s crimes. JPMorgan went from initially defending a former executive, ex-investment banking chief Jes Staley, to blaming him for any fallout tied to Epstein.

In an earlier filing, the bank declined to admit that the two plaintiffs’ allegations were accurate, and in a statement called the lawsuits “misplaced and without merit.”

Concerns about whether JPMorgan should bank Epstein spurred Erdoes to hold meetings with other senior executives, including Staley and former general counsel Steven Cutler from 2008 onwards, the suit alleged.

The USVI suit claimed that Epstein’s reputation was “so widely known” at the bank that executives joked about it. Erdoes allegedly received an email in 2008 that asked her whether Epstein was attending an event with the singer Miley Cyrus.

Internal worries

Furthermore, JPMorgan compliance staff brought up their concerns repeatedly; in 2010 one official said that Epstein “should go.” In 2011, other staffers discussed news articles connecting Epstein to human trafficking of underaged girls.

“Numerous articles detail various law enforcement agencies investigating Jeffrey Epstein for allegedly participating, directly or indirectly, in child trafficking and molesting underage girls,” according to the suit.

In her deposition, Erdoes testified that JPMorgan dropped Epstein as a client in 2013 after she learned that his withdrawals were for “actual cash,” according to the suit.

But Epstein had made cash withdrawals totaling more than $800,000 in each of 2004 and 2005.

Those withdrawals drew the attention of bank compliance staff in 2006, who noted that he routinely withdrew $40,000 to $80,000 several times per month, according to the suit.

The transactions continued in the years after Epstein’s guilty plea, though JPMorgan accepted his explanation that the money was for fuel and landing fees for his planes, even during years when Epstein was under house arrest, the USVI suit alleged.

See below for the lawsuit from the U.S. Virgin Islands :