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When it comes to JPMorgan Chase’s nearly 15-year business relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, Jamie Dimon, the bank’s longtime CEO, claims to have little first-hand knowledge about the disgraced financier.
During a deposition taken last Friday, Dimon repeatedly denied meeting Epstein, or communicating with him, and also said he had no recollection of being briefed by his top lieutenants at the nation’s largest bank on one of its most notorious customers. A redacted transcript of the deposition was released on Wednesday (US time) and reviewed by The New York Times.
JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon repeatedly denied meeting Epstein, or communicating with him, and also said he had no recollection of being briefed by his top lieutenants at the nation’s largest bank on one of its most notorious customers.Credit: Bloomberg
Although he said he wished the bank had been aware of Epstein’s illicit activities, Dimon said he didn’t recall reading any reports about Epstein’s 2008 conviction in Florida on a charge of soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl — an offence that forced him to register as a sex offender in multiple places in the United States. Dimon said he had barely heard of Epstein before his July 2019 arrest on federal sex trafficking charges and death by suicide in a New York jail cell a month later.
“I don’t recall knowing anything about Jeffrey Epstein until the stories broke sometime in 2019, and I was surprised that I didn’t even — had never even heard of the guy, pretty much. And how involved he was with so many people,” Dimon said during an all-day deposition taken at JPMorgan’s headquarters in Manhattan.
The deposition is one of the last to be taken in connection with two lawsuits arising from the Wall Street bank’s relationship with Epstein. A decade after dropping Epstein as a client, the bank is now trying to fend off claims that its top executives either knew about Epstein’s long history of sexually abusing teenage girls and young women, or looked the other way.
The two suits, brought by lawyers representing Epstein’s victims and by the government of the US Virgin Islands, claim that JPMorgan ignored multiple warnings that Epstein was using money to finance illicit sexual activities at his residences in New York, Florida and the Virgin Islands.
A blame game is also going on at JPMorgan, with some suggesting that James Staley, who had been a top private banker at JPMorgan and the main advocate of Epstein , should have known about Epstein’s sex trafficking at the time and that he had the duty to let others know. The bank has named Staley as a third-party defendant in the lawsuits in a bid to hold him liable for any damages JPMorgan may have to pay.
Staley, who is scheduled to be deposed as soon as next week, has argued in court papers that he did nothing wrong or inappropriate. His lawyers did not return requests for comment.
Better known as “Jes” on Wall Street, Staley had to resign as CEO of Barclays in 2021 following an investigation by British regulators into how he had characterised his prior relationship with Epstein.
Dimon’s deposition was made public after the bank put out a statement following the deposition that said Dimon “does not recall ever discussing his accounts internally, and was not involved in any decisions about his account.”
Lawyers for the victims pressed Dimon a number of times during the deposition about the bank’s decision to label Epstein as a “high-risk client” around 2011. But Dimon said he wasn’t consulted on the matter. He also said he never discussed Epstein with Staley — who was Epstein’s main advocate at the bank — or Mary Erdoes, who is now head of JPMorgan’s asset and wealth management division.
Erdoes said in a deposition in March that she decided to dismiss Epstein as a client because of concerns about large cash withdrawals from his accounts with the bank. She said Staley’s departure from the bank meant Epstein had no strong advocate arguing for him to remain a client.
Dimon also said he did not recall the bank’s general counsel at the time, Stephen Cutler, ever discussing Epstein with him.
In retrospect, Dimon said, he wished he and others had known more about Epstein’s crimes. He said that the bank’s involvement with the sex offender ranks as one of its bigger reputational hits but that the bank should not be held liable for Epstein’s sins.
Dimon says he never discussed Epstein with former top banker James E. Staley – who was Epstein’s main advocate at the bank – or Mary Erdoes, who is now head of JPMorgan’s asset and wealth management division.Credit: Bloomberg
“I think what happened to these women is atrocious,” he said.
“I wouldn’t mind personally apologising to them, not because we committed the crime. We did not. And not because we believe we’re responsible, but that any potential thing, what little role that we could have eased it or helped catch it quicker or something like that.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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