JPMorgan ignored Epstein's 'nymphettes,' US Virgin Islands says

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Virgin Islands unveiled new accusations against JPMorgan Chase over the bank's ties to former client Jeffrey Epstein, including executives discussing how the disgraced late financier surrounded himself with "nymphettes."

JPMorgan countered that the U.S. Virgin Islands was also to blame for allowing Epstein's sexual abuse of young women and teenage girls, saying the territory used its powers to enable these crimes.

The bank accused the territory of facilitating visas that allowed Epstein to bring victims, and of "looking the other way" whenever Epstein arrived at local airports accompanied by young women and girls.

Both sets of accusations were made in dueling Monday night filings in Manhattan federal court.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is suing JPMorgan for at least $190 million, saying the bank ignored red flags about Epstein because he was a wealthy and lucrative client from 1998 to 2013.

Ahead of a scheduled Oct. 23 trial, the U.S. Virgin Islands wants a judge to declare that JPMorgan participated in Epstein's sex trafficking and obstructed law enforcement.

Its filings include many new details about the New York-based bank's alleged conduct, including more than $25 million of payments to Epstein's associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Epstein's victims.

They also quoted a Sept 2012 email from a senior JPMorgan executive to Mary Erdoes, now the bank's asset and wealth management chief, comparing another client's house to Epstein's.

"Reminded me of JE's house, except it was more tasteful, and fewer nymphettes," the executive wrote. "More like the Frick [museum]. Art was fabulous."

"Wow," Erdoes responded.

JPMorgan, in contrast, wants the judge to declare that the U.S. Virgin Islands' should not be able to seek monetary relief, and that the territory's claim the bank obstructed law enforcement be denied.

The bank has already faulted the U.S. Virgin Islands for having a cozy relationship with Epstein, where top officials gave him tax breaks and waived sex-offender monitoring requirements in exchange for cash and gifts.

Epstein had owned two private islands within the territory, and allegedly bought the second to keep people from spying on his sexual abuses on the first.

The U.S. Virgin Islands has already received more than $105 million from Epstein's estate, and reached a settlement with billionaire Leon Black, a former Epstein friend.

JPMorgan agreed last month to pay $290 million to settle a separate lawsuit by dozens of Epstein accusers.

Epstein died by suicide in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.

The case is U.S. Virgin Islands v. JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-10904.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates)
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