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Ex-JPMorgan executive Staley to be questioned under oath about Epstein ties

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By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jes Staley, the onetime asset management chief at JPMorgan Chase, is set to be questioned under oath over the weekend about his ties to the late financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The deposition, which is not public, is part of evidence-gathering for two civil lawsuits against the largest U.S. bank.

One is by a proposed class of women who say they were abused by Epstein, and the other is by the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein allegedly abused women on a private island he owned.

Staley’s testimony could be key.

In a May 1 denial of JPMorgan’s motions to dismiss both lawsuits, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said the bank may be liable if the plaintiffs show Staley had firsthand knowledge Epstein was running a sex trafficking venture.

A JPMorgan spokesperson declined to comment. The bank has denied liability and said it would have dropped Epstein as a client sooner had it known of his crimes.

Both lawsuits say JPMorgan missed red flags suggesting Epstein’s crimes, such as large cash withdrawals and unusual transfers.

The financier was a JPMorgan client from 1998 to 2013, the last five years after pleading guilty to a prostitution charge in Florida.

It has in turn sued Staley, arguing he concealed what he knew about Epstein’s trafficking and should cover any damages the bank may face in the cases.

Deutsche Bank agreed in May to pay $75 million to settle a similar lawsuit accusing it of facilitating Epstein’s sex trafficking while he was a client from 2013 to 2018.

Lawyers for Staley did not respond to requests for comment.

Staley left JPMorgan in 2013, a few months after the bank fired Epstein, and served as Barclays’ chief executive from 2015 to 2021.

Chief Executive Jamie Dimon testified that Staley left JPMorgan in part because he was not doing a good job running its investment bank, his role at the time.

Staley is set to be questioned by lawyers for the women, the Virgin Islands, and JPMorgan, according to the person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, a lawyer who has represented sex trafficking victims and defendants, said he expected the plaintiffs to “grill” Staley on his knowledge of Epstein’s sex trafficking and whether it affected the handling of Epstein’s accounts.

“If they can show that he gave special consideration to Jeff Epstein to help him cover up payments to underage girls to have sex with them, that’s serious business — but also very hard to show,” said Margulis-Ohnuma, who is not involved in the case.

In a court filing responding to New York-based JPMorgan’s claims, Staley said he did not know Epstein would coerce young women and girls into having sex, or that anyone under 18 would be pressured into sex.

Staley also said JPMorgan had “unclean hands” given its own mistakes in dealing with Epstein.

Epstein killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

A trial covering all of the lawsuits is scheduled for Oct. 23.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Additional reporting by Nupur Anand in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Daniel Wallis)

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