Jes Staley fights back against ‘slanderous’ Epstein claims

Jes Staley’s lawyer has described “slanderous” allegations that he aided and abetted Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes as “baseless but serious”, after the executive was sued by his former employer JPMorgan Chase.

Brendan Sullivan, who is representing Staley, asked a federal judge in New York for more time to review tens of thousands of documents relating to the case, which was brought after JPMorgan was sued by an alleged Epstein victim and the US Virgin Islands, where the disgraced financier had a home.

“The allegations against him are slanderous, and the potential damages are astronomical,” Sullivan wrote, adding that since his client was accused of aiding “one of the most notorious criminals in recent American history” the stakes “could hardly be higher”.

He requested that JPMorgan’s countersuit against Staley be separated from the two lawsuits against the bank. He also asked that the October trial date — which Jed Rakoff, the judge overseeing the case, said last month would take “an act of God” to move — be rescheduled for March 2024.

“Disproving these false and highly-publicised allegations is of paramount importance to him. Yet this court’s scheduling rulings have severely prejudiced [Staley’s] ability to do so,” Sullivan wrote.

Separately on Thursday, lawyers for JPMorgan Chase subpoenaed Assured Investment Management, formerly known as BlueMountain Capital, where Staley worked after leaving JPMorgan and before becoming chief executive of British bank Barclays, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The existence of the subpoena was first reported by Bloomberg.

The move by Staley to sever his case from JPMorgan’s is the latest salvo in a high-profile dispute over the bank’s decision to retain Epstein as a client for 15 years, before dropping him in 2013.

Last month, Rakoff declined to dismiss allegations that the lender benefited from human trafficking by ignoring internal warnings about Epstein after he was arrested for solicitation of a minor in Florida in 2006.

JPMorgan has called the suits “meritless” and subsequently countersued Staley, who was at the bank for decades and for a period managed the relationship with Epstein. Its complaint alleged that Staley withheld information about crimes he had witnessed at Epstein’s homes while being involved in an internal review of Epstein’s account. Staley has denied any wrongdoing or involvement in Epstein’s crimes.

New details about Staley’s relationship with Epstein were revealed during an interview with the Epstein victim, JPMorgan’s lawyers said in the countersuit, adding they believed Staley himself had committed sex crimes. Staley is set to be questioned under oath by the bank’s lawyers later this month.

The 66-year-old American joined BlueMountain, which made a fortune by taking the other side of the “London whale” trade that cost JPMorgan more than $6bn, as a managing partner in 2013. At the time of his appointment, Staley was described as “one of the most ethical people we’ve worked with”, by the company’s chief executive Andrew Feldstein.

Staley left BlueMountain less than two years later to become chief executive of Barclays in 2015, but resigned after six years following a regulatory investigation in the UK into the way he characterised his relationship with Epstein.

BlueMountain was acquired by Assured Guaranty in 2019 and renamed after a bitter battle with California utility group Pacific Gas and Electric over its plans to file for bankruptcy, which left the firm nursing heavy losses and prompted it to close its flagship fund.

JPMorgan declined to comment. Assured Investment Management and lawyers for Staley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Antoine Gara in New York

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