Jes Staley’s Epstein emails revealed in New York

Emails exchanged by former Barclays chief executive Jes Staley and the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein have been revealed in greater detail in a lawsuit filed by the US Virgin Islands against JPMorgan Chase.

Newly unredacted portions of a complaint brought by the government of the Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home, contains excerpts of several of the 1,200 emails between the men from 2008 to 2012, when Staley was Epstein’s private banker at JPMorgan.

In July 2010, Staley sent a message to Epstein that read: “Maybe they’re tracking u? That was fun. Say hi to Snow White.”

Epstein asked in return: “[W]hat character would you like next?” to which Staley said “Beauty and the Beast”. Epstein replied: “well one side is available.”

According to the Virgin Islands, the exchange was referring to young women and girls Epstein was providing. It alleges that the emails demonstrate 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”.

The “snow white” email was first reported by the Financial Times in November 2021.

The new parts of the lawsuit that were revealed on Wednesday will add pressure on to JPMorgan, which the Virgin Islands says is liable for facilitating Epstein’s sexual abuse by failing to spot and act on red flags.

The filing also comes more than a year after Staley resigned from Barclays after seeing preliminary conclusions of an investigation by UK regulators, which examined whether he had mischaracterised his relationship with Epstein as purely professional. Barclays declined to comment.

Staley, who worked at JPMorgan until 2013, pressed the bank to keep Epstein as a client despite the disgraced financier’s convictions, the FT has previously reported.

Some of the newly released emails suggest Epstein was a controversial customer and was under review at the highest levels of the bank, including chief executive Jamie Dimon.

An email the Virgin Islands says was sent in August 2008 read: “I would count Epstein’s assets as a probable outflow for ‘08 ($120mm [sic] or so?) as I can’t imagine it will stay (pending Dimon review).”

The complaint also cites emails it alleges show employees at JPMorgan raised concerns about Epstein at various stages. It includes a 2010 email from a member of the bank’s risk management division that read: “See below new allegations of an investigation related to child trafficking — are you still comfortable with this client who is now a registered sex offender?”

In a January 2011 review of Epstein’s accounts, the complaint says, the bank concluded there were “no material updates” and noted that “Jes Staley discussed the topic with Jeffrey Epstein who replied there was no truth to the allegations, no evidence and was not expecting any problems”.

JPMorgan declined to comment beyond court filings from the bank’s lawyers who have previously characterised the complaint as “meritless”. 

Staley himself is not a defendant in the lawsuit and has consistently denied knowledge of Epstein’s sexual abuse. Kathleen Harris, a lawyer for Staley, declined to comment.

Harris told the FT in 2021 that her client had “no involvement in any of the alleged crimes committed by Mr Epstein, and code words were never used by Mr Staley in any communications with Mr Epstein, ever.”

The cache of 1,200 emails — provided by JPMorgan to regulators in the US and UK — also form the core of the UK regulator’s probe against Staley, which he is currently appealing.

Another email included in the filing was sent in November 2009, when Epstein was under home confinement in Florida after being released on charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution in the state.

The USVI said it was sent while Staley “was presumably visiting Little St James”, Epstein’s private island.

“So when all hell breaks lo[o]se, and the world is crumbling, I will come here, and be at peace. Presently, I’m in the hot tub with a glass of white wine. This is an amazing place. Truly amazing. Next time, we’re here together. I owe you much. And I deeply appreciate our friendship. I have few so profound,” Staley wrote.

A month later in early December, Staley messaged: “I realize the danger in sending this email. But it was great to be able, today, to give you, in New York City, a long heartfelt, hug.”

The next day, Epstein sent an email that contained a picture of a young woman, which remains redacted. Staley replied “don’t tell me a French wine”. Epstein said, “always thoughts of alcohol”.

Later in December, Epstein sent another email to Staley that contained only a picture of a young woman, also still redacted.

The Virgin Islands alleges that the emails, photos and bank transfers show that JPMorgan “knowingly facilitated, sustained, and concealed the human trafficking network” he operated with transactions made via JPMorgan accounts.

The women “trafficked and abused during different intervals between at least 2003 and July 2019, when Epstein was arrested and jailed” received payments “between 2003 and 2013 in excess of $1 million collectively”, the complaint says.

Among the recipients were women with “Eastern European surnames who were publicly and internally identified as Epstein recruiters and/or victims”, lawyers for the Virgin Islands claimed, including one woman identified in news reports and JPMorgan’s due diligence as having been solicited by Epstein when she was 14 years old, who was paid $600,000.

Epstein pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation of prostitution with a minor in 2008 in state court and was registered as a sex offender in the Virgin Islands soon after. He died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal charges that he trafficked underage girls.

Epstein’s estate reached a $105mn settlement with the Virgin Islands in December.

JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank are also being sued by victims of Epstein, who accuse the lenders of aiding sex trafficking by turning a blind eye to suspicious transactions.

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