When it comes to JPMorgan Chase’s nearly 15-year business relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, Jamie Dimon, the bank’s longtime chief executive, claims to have little firsthand knowledge about the disgraced financier.
During a deposition taken on Friday, Mr. Dimon repeatedly denied meeting Mr. Epstein, or communicating with him, and also said he had no recollection of being briefed by his top lieutenants at the nation’s largest bank on one of its most notorious customers. A redacted transcript of the deposition was released on Wednesday and reviewed by The New York Times.
Though he said he wished the bank had been aware of Mr. Epstein’s illicit activities, Mr. Dimon said he didn’t recall reading any reports about Mr. Epstein’s 2008 conviction in Florida on a charge of soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl — an offense that forced him to register as a sex offender in multiple places in the United States. Mr. Dimon said he had barely heard of Mr. Epstein before his July 2019 arrest on federal sex trafficking charges and death by suicide in a New York jail cell a month later.
“I don’t recall knowing anything about Jeffrey Epstein until the stories broke sometime in 2019, and I was surprised that I didn’t even — had never even heard of the guy, pretty much. And how involved he was with so many people,” Mr. Dimon said during an all-day deposition taken at JPMorgan’s headquarters in Manhattan.
The deposition is one of the last to be taken in connection with two lawsuits arising from the Wall Street bank’s relationship with Mr. Epstein. A decade after dropping Mr. Epstein as a client, the bank is now trying to fend off claims that its top executives either knew about Mr. Epstein’s long history of sexually abusing teenage girls and young women, or looked the other way.
The two suits, brought by lawyers representing Mr. Epstein’s victims and by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, claim that JPMorgan ignored multiple warnings that Mr. Epstein was using money to finance illicit sexual activities at his residences in New York, Florida and the Virgin Islands.
Mr. Dimon’s deposition was made public after the bank put out a statement following the deposition that said Mr. Dimon “does not recall ever discussing his accounts internally, and was not involved in any decisions about his account.”
Lawyers for the victims pressed Mr. Dimon a number of times during the deposition about the bank’s decision to label Mr. Epstein as a “high-risk client” around 2011. But Mr. Dimon said he wasn’t consulted on the matter. He also said he never discussed Mr. Epstein with the former top banker James E. Staley — who was Mr. Epstein’s main advocate at the bank — or Mary Erdoes, who is now head of JPMorgan’s asset and wealth management division.
Ms. Erdoes in a deposition in March said she decided to dismiss Mr. Epstein as a client because of concerns about large cash withdrawals from his accounts with the bank. She said Mr. Staley’s departure from the bank meant Mr. Epstein had no strong advocate arguing for him to remain a client.
Mr. Dimon also said he did not recall the bank’s general counsel at the time, Stephen Cutler, ever discussing Mr. Epstein with him.
In retrospect, Mr. Dimon said, he wished he and others had known more about Mr. Epstein’s crimes. He said that the bank’s involvement with the sex offender ranks as one of its bigger reputational hits but that the bank should not be held liable for Mr. Epstein’s sins.
“I think what happened to these women is atrocious,” he said. “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.”
Matthew Goldstein covers Wall Street and white-collar crime and housing issues. @mattgoldstein26
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