Two Washington DC political insiders - one republican and one democrat - whispered this week JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon as a possible 2024 presidential candidate and billionaire hedge funder Bill Ackman, Pershing Square Capital Management’s CEO, cheered on the idea of President Jamie Dimon on social media.
“Jamie is of exemplary and unimpeachable character. He is a no bullshit, straight-talking, charismatic leader with an enormous grasp of the world's issues and how to address them,” tweeted Ackman.
All three clearly missed the point if that were to come to pass. The Tier 3 registered sex offender - as in the late Jeffrey Epstein - would be a topic of discussion right out of that gate as it is now.
The timing of their assessment of Dimon's presidential candidacy is seemingly poor optics.
First, Ackman’s current wife, Dr. Neri Oxman, was with MIT Lab where Epstein made financial donations. As those donations were revealed publicly, even Ackman was worried about the possibility of his wife's reputation be sullied, as the New Post earlier reported.
And, then there are the ties between Epstein and JPMorgan.
Dimon testified last week in a deposition that he never heard of Jeffrey Epstein and his crimes of raping and trafficking underage children and young women until Epstein was arrested in 2019, according to a transcript of the videotaped deposition released Wednesday.
Even though Epstein had been a client of his bank from 2000 - 2013, had been featured in a profile piece in Vanity Fair in 2002, named an eligible bachelor, and flew former President Clinton on his private plane all over Africa, hung out with fellow democrats, and his crimes showed up on JPMorgan records.
Epstein was identified on an JPMorgan internal compliance list of high-risk clients with criminal records dated October 2006, the deposition transcript shows.
The chart indicated the reason Epstein was high-risk because: “Several newspaper articles were found that detail the indictment of Jeffrey Epstein in Florida on felony charges of soliciting underage prostitutes.”
Yet, Dimon said he first heard of Epstein “when the story blew wide open. He was arrested, and all the stories came out about all the people he knows. And the reason I remember that is I was surprised that I didn’t know about it before.”
When asked during the deposition if he had heard of Epstein before his 2019 arrest, if he'd ever heard the name Jeffrey Epstein, Dimon replied, “Not that I recall.”
The deposition emanated from two lawsuits filed against JP Morgan Chase on behalf of Epstein victims and the U.S. Virgin Islands in New York federal court where the plaintiffs are seeking to hold the JPMorgan financially liable for Epstein's long history of sexual abuse and crimes.
The bank has denied the allegation and has sued former JPMorgan employee, Jes Staley, for allegedly hiding Epstein’s crimes to keep Epstein as their client.
According to the lawsuits filed late last year, JPMorgan provided Epstein with large amounts of cash from 1998 through August 2013 even though it knew about his sex trafficking practices.
The 416-page deposition, portions of which were heavily redacted with entire pages blacked out, was released publicly through an agreement among lawyers in the cases.
Confronted at the deposition with an email from Epstein's former assistant suggesting that Dimon was scheduled to meet with Epstein as far back as 2010, Dimon claimed it was untrue.
“I have never had an appointment with Jeff Epstein. I’ve never met Jeff Epstein. I never knew Jeff Epstein. I never went to Jeff Epstein’s house. I never had a meal with Jeff Epstein. I have no idea what they’re referring to here,” Dimon insisted.
After the email from Epstein's assistant asking whether “heavy snacks” or dinner should be prepared for the meeting, Epstein responded “snacks.”
As Dimon responded to being confronted with the email, a lawyer noted that Epstein did not respond by saying, “you're misinformed, Jamie Dimon is not coming.”
Dimon said, “I don't know what he thought at the time. He was obviously misinformed. I never — this never took place.”
“I don’t think Jeff Epstein ever arranged for me to meet with anybody, to my knowledge,” he said.
Epstein’s close relationship with Jes Staley went back years. Staley oversaw many divisions of JPMorgan where he worked for 23 years. Staley ran its investment bank and wealth management arm until his departure in 2013 to become CEO of Barclays. He was forced to step down Barclays when Epstein 2019 indictment was revealed.
JPMorgan is trying to protect itself and make Staley responsible in its Epstein legal cases based upon the argument that Staley downplayed or hid Epstein’s issues..
Attorney Brad Edwards represents the anonymous Epstein victim in her lawsuit against the bank.
“What has become clear is that Epstein could not have run his sex trafficking operation without the valuable assistance of JPMorgan, Chase. Conveniently, each banker points a finger at the other, claiming this hot potato was someone else’s fault. Regardless how unbelievable the finger-pointing or purported lack of knowledge is, responsibility rests with the bank,” said Edwards.
At one point in the deposition, Dimon agreed that Epstein was a “disaster” and “terrible” for the bank. He insisted that whether to keep Epstein as a client would have ultimately been left up to the company's general counsel.
Dimon was asked, “If you had known in 2010 that Jeffrey Epstein was a sex trafficker, that Jeffrey Epstein was a client of the bank, that Jeffrey Epstein was withdrawing tens of thousands of dollars of cash every month, would you, as the chief executive officer of the bank, said, ‘We need to get rid of this guy,’ regardless of whether the general counsel told you that that was the right thing to do?”
“I think everyone involved, had they known then what is known today, including me, would have taken that position,” Dimon insisted.
Dimon also testified that top bank executive Mary Erdoes and JPMorgan’s General Counsel Stephen Cutler had the authority to drop Epstein as a customer well before Erdoes finally took that step in 2013.
During Dimon’s deposition, it was made clear that Erdoes and Cutler were aware of Epstein sexual claims while he was a client for years.
Erdoes admitted in her own deposition that she was aware of Epstein being accused of paying cash to underage girls and young women as early as 2006.
Dimon repeatedly stated in his deposition that he was barely aware of Epstein at all until 2019.
The lawsuits against JPMorgan allege Epstein used money from his JPMorgan accounts for his sex trafficking operation and that the bank kept him as a client in spite of serious red flags.
In short, JPMorgan willfully ignored Epstein’s crimes.
During Dimon’s deposition, he was shown an email that JPMorgan’s then-general counsel Cutler Cutler sent Erdoes about Epstein on July 21, 2011.
In that email, Cutler wrote: “I would like to put it and him behind us. Not a person we should do business with, period.”
“This is not an honorable person in any way,” Cutler wrote in an email a day earlier to Erdoes, Jes Staley, and two other bank executives/
“He should not be a client,” Cutler added in that email.
Cutler, in his own deposition last week, “testified under oath that Jes Staley and Mary Erdoes made the decision to retain Epstein as a customer of the bank,” a lawyer told Dimon.
Dimon testified Friday that he was not aware of that email by Cutler when it was sent.
But he also said, “Mr. Cutler had the ultimate authority to kick him out if he thought it had gone too far.”
“He was delegating reputational decisions to somebody else” Dimon said, apparently referring to Cutler’s claim that the decision to retain Epstein was made by Staley and Erdoes.
Staley had made visits to Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands and visited Epstein in Palm Beach when Epstein was serving out his sentence.
Epstein was terminated as a customer in 2013, two years after the emails and five years after he pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of soliciting sex from a minor.
“As CEO of private [banking] or asset and wealth management, Mary Erdoes could have decided to terminate Jeffrey Epstein as a customer, as a client, of JPMorgan; is that right?” Dimon was asked.
“I generally would say that’s true, yes,” replied Dimon.
Erdoes testified in her earlier deposition that JPMorgan dropped Epstein as a client in 2013 after she learned that his withdrawals from his accounts were for “actual cash,” according to court filings.
“I have trust and respect in both of them,” Dimon testified about Erdoes and Cutler.
“My view is had she known what she had known today, she would be saying exactly the same thing I said,” Dimon said, referring to his statement that he would have terminated Epstein as a client if he had only known.
“There’s a chance that Jes knew, that’s why they’re different.”
Dimon testified that he was not informed that Epstein was indicted in Florida for sex crimes in 2006, or of other concerns about him that others at the bank raised.
When asked if the accusers of Epstein deserved an apology, Dimon said, “I think what happened to these women is atrocious, and I’m horrified at the amount of human trafficking that takes place.”
“And I wouldn’t mind personally apologizing 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, or get it to law enforcement quicker or get law enforcement to react to it quicker, which they obviously didn’t, you know, I would apologize to them.”
“For that, yes,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that legal documents show that Staley discussed Epstein with Dimon over the years, including when Epstein was arrested in Florida in 2006 and when he pleaded guilty in that case two years later.
“Staley also said that Dimon communicated with him various times about whether to maintain Epstein as a client through 2012,” The Journal reported.
“There is no evidence that any such communications ever occurred — nothing in the voluminous number of documents reviewed and nothing in the nearly dozen depositions taken, including that of our own CEO,” said Patricia Wexler, JPMorgan’s spokeswoman.
Wexler later Friday told CNBC, “Had the Firm believed he was engaged in an ongoing sex trafficking operation, Epstein would not have been retained as client.”
“In hindsight, we regret he was ever a client,” the spokeswoman said.
Staley worked at JPMorgan from 1979 until January 2013, and reported to Jamie Dimon after Staley became chief executive officer for JPMorgan's Corporate and Investment Banking division in 2009.
Staley left JPMorgan to become CEO of London-based bank Barclays, though he resigned as Chief Executive in November 2021 after British regulators reported his past links to Epstein.
In court documents, Staley has been accused of a “profound friendship” with Epstein that it could “even suggest that Staley may have been involved in Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation.
Staley, who resigned as chief executive of Barclays in November 2021 after a preliminary investigation by the UK regulators into his relationship.
Staley had visited Epstein’s Palm Beach home, his private Caribbean island as well as visited him while Epstein was jailed in 2008 for sex crimes.
“Between 2008 and 2012, Staley exchanged approximately 1,200 emails with Epstein from his JP Morgan email account,” the USVI said in freshly unredacted documents. “These communications show a close personal relationship and ‘profound’ friendship between the two men and even suggest that Staley may have been involved in Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation.
“They also reveal that Staley corresponded with Epstein while Epstein was incarcerated and visited Epstein’s Virgin Islands residence on multiple occasions.”
Staley developed a relationship with Epstein in 2000, when he was hired to lead JP Morgan’s private bank, which handles wealthy clients. Staley stayed in contact with Epstein for seven years after the latter was convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2008, and visited Epstein in Florida while he was still serving his sentence and on work release in 2009.
That relationship continued after Staley left JP Morgan, where he had spent 30 years of his career, in 2013. Staley claimed their contact started to taper off after he left the Wall Street lender, with the two men meeting for a final time in 2015, when Staley took his own yacht, the Bequia, to visit Epstein’s private island.
Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of sex trafficking in December 2021. During her trial, a JP Morgan banker testified that Epstein wired her $31 million dollars and prosecutors suggested this was Maxwell’s payment for procuring young girls for Epstein and his friends.
The fresh claims are included in the USVI’s lawsuit accusing JP Morgan of “turning a blind eye” to illegal activities committed by their client, Jeffrey Epstein.
Staley is expected to be deposed on June 10 and 11.
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