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JPMorgan settles with Epstein victim in class action suit

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -JPMorgan Chase has agreed in principle to settle a class action lawsuit with a victim of Jeffrey Epstein, the U.S. bank said on Monday in a joint statement with the woman’s lawyers.

The settlement resolves one claim against JPMorgan, in a proposed class action by a woman who says Epstein abused her.

“Any association with him (Epstein) was a mistake and we regret it,” JPMorgan said. “We would never have continued to do business with him if we believed he was using our bank in any way to help commit heinous crimes.”

The largest bank in the United States is still facing a lawsuit by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned two neighboring islands and allegedly abused victims in his mansion.

JPMorgan’s litigation against its former executive Jes Staley, who it accuses of concealing what he knew about Epstein, is also ongoing.

Staley has said he regretted befriending Epstein, but denied knowing about his alleged sex trafficking. His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The proposed class action lawsuit claimed JPMorgan ignored internal warnings about Epstein’s sexual abuses of girls and young women and chose to keep the disgraced financier as a client. JPMorgan kept Epstein, who was a client of the bank from 1998 until he was dropped in 2013, aboard even after his 2006 arrest on prostitution-related charges and a related guilty plea two years later.

Deutsche Bank, where Epstein was a client from 2013 to 2018, last month agreed to pay $75 million to settle a similar lawsuit by women who say they were trafficked by the financier.

“The settlements signal that financial institutions have an important role to play in spotting and shutting down sex trafficking,” Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for the woman known as Jane Doe 1 who sued JPMorgan, said in a statement.

Epstein died in August 2019 at the age of 66 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial for sex trafficking. New York City’s medical examiner called his death a suicide.

The settlement partially resolves a rare public relations imbroglio for Jamie Dimon, who has been JPMorgan’s chief executive since 2006.

Dimon testified under oath in May that he had barely heard of Epstein until the financier’s July 2019 arrest, and did not recall discussing Epstein’s accounts with other bank officials, including those authorized to terminate Epstein as a client.

Staley was once a close Dimon ally and considered a possible successor as CEO.

Dimon said he asked Staley to leave JPMorgan in 2013, prior to Epstein’s termination, because he was not running its investment bank well. Epstein was not a factor in Staley’s departure, Dimon said.

Documents disclosed recently in the lawsuit show that former JPMorgan counsel Stephen Cutler had requested the bank to cut ties with Epstein, but other executives resisted.

(Reporting by Lananh Nguyen and Saeed Azhar in New York; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Jason Neely and Alexander Smith)

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