Two unnamed women who accused Jeffrey Epstein of sexual abuse are suing two major banks, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank. The women claim the institutions ignored “blatant red flags” and provided a “necessary legitimate appearance” as they enabled the late disgraced financier’s sex-trafficking enterprise.
“The time has come for the real enablers to be held responsible, especially his wealthy friends and the financial institutions that played an integral role,” one of the lawyers, Bradley Edwards, said in a written statement to the Wall Street Journal. “These victims were wronged, by many, not just Epstein. He did not act alone.”
At the heart of both lawsuits is the allegation that both JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank allowed Epstein to continue paying dozens of abused young women for sex and, in turn, profit from his conduct. By providing Epstein with access to funds and accounts, they assert, the banks violated human trafficking laws. (Regulations dictate that banks must know how accounts are being used in order to monitor them for possible criminal activity.)
The lawsuits claim that both banks were “well aware” of Epstein’s conduct, continuing to do business with him even after a Florida state court found him guilty of soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2008. “Despite this knowledge, the Bank did little or nothing to inquire into or block numerous payments to named co-conspirators, and to or on behalf of numerous young women, or to inquire how Epstein was using hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in cash,” the JP Morgan complaint states. The Deutsche Bank lawsuit details a similar allegation, claiming the bank “knowingly and intentionally allowed him to continue to employ the Bank’s services to further his criminal activities.”
The lawsuits also cite findings from investigations, conducted by regulators in the United States and the United Kingdom, into Epstein’s dealings with the two named banks. “We believe this claim lacks merit and will present our arguments in court,” a spokesperson for Deutsche Bank said in a statement to Rolling Stone. JP Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Epstein had been a major New York-based hedge fund manager who built a sex-trafficking operation over the course of the 2000s and 2010s and sexually abused dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14. In the 2008 case, Epstein made a plea deal that shielded him from more federal charges that, at the time, could have sent him to prison for life. But a bombshell reporting from the Miami Herald and a series of new lawsuits reignited criminal investigations into Epstein’s dealings. He was charged in July 2019 with two counts of sex trafficking of minors, and his death was ruled a suicide as he awaited trial later that year.
Neither accuser is named in the lawsuits filed. The woman suing JP Morgan is a former New York ballet dancer whom Epstein sexually abused from 2006 until 2013, according to the complaint. Fewer details are given about the woman suing Deutsche Bank, documents only state that she’d been abused by Epstein and his inner circle from 2008 to 2013. Both women are being represented by attorneys who worked with Epstein’s victims in past legal actions, though it’s unclear whether these women have previously brought claims forward. The suits were filed as class action lawsuits on behalf of “all women who were sexually trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein” during the time he did business with each bank.