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HomeNewsLocal newsFederal Judge Asks for Specific Reasons Why Epstein’s Bank Can’t Challenge V.I.’s...

Federal Judge Asks for Specific Reasons Why Epstein’s Bank Can’t Challenge V.I.’s Lawsuit

The JPMorgan Chase Bank headquarters in New York. (Shutterstock photo)
A judge overseeing a lawsuit filed by V.I. Justice against Jeffrey Epstein’s former bank says he wants to know more about a May 8 filing before making a decision. (Shutterstock photo)

Lawyers for the V.I. Justice Department have until Friday to tell a New York judge why JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. must explain whether or not they helped convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein hide years’ worth of illegal acts in the territory. The filing of detailed letter briefs was contained in an order from District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff earlier this week.

Rakoff’s order spoke specifically to a motion filed in May by Attorney General Ariel Smith. Smith is asking the court to deny a set of affirmative defenses filed by lawyers representing Chase Bank. In that filing, the bank’s lawyers say V.I. Justice cannot invoke the Trafficking Victims Protection Act against them.

Epstein was a client of JPMorgan Chase for several years until the bank terminated its business relationship with him in 2013. Epstein died in a Manhattan detention center in 2019 following his arrest in New Jersey on sex-trafficking charges.

In a filing dated May 8, Smith said, “… Since the Government here is acting in its sovereign capacity to enforce public rights under the TVPA, JPMorgan’s equitable defenses are not cognizable as a matter of law.”

As he issued his latest order on July 7, Rakoff said the court wanted specificity. “While the Court expresses no view as to whether further information on this point will ultimately factor in its decision on USVI’s motion, the court believes that further detail as to precisely what interests USVI is seeking to vindicate — and what damages USVI claims — may be helpful to its consideration of the nuanced legal issues raised in the parties’ briefing,” the judge said.

In a civil lawsuit against the bank in December, Justice claims JPMorgan Chase provided Epstein — a convicted sex offender — the means to pay recruiters and victims of his sex trafficking operation and failed to notify law enforcement as required by the TVPA.

“JPMorgan had real-time information on Epstein’s activity that the Government did not and had specific legal duties to report this information to law enforcement authorities, which it intentionally decided not to do,” Smith said in the May 8 filing.

Rakoff gave the bank’s attorneys until July 19 to file a detailed response to arguments submitted by V.I. Justice.

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