Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays
Justin Solomon | CNBC
JPMorgan Chase sued former investment banking chief Jes Staley over his ties to disgraced former financier Jeffrey Epstein, alleging that Staley is responsible for any legal fallout from a pair of lawsuits against the bank.
The company filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Staley seeking to reclaim his last eight years of pay at JPMorgan and hold him responsible for potential payouts in lawsuits the New York-based bank faced. Only the compensation amounts more than $80 million.
The legal maneuver is the latest twist in cases that have embroiled America’s largest bank by assets. Late last year, the U.S. Virgin Islands and a group of alleged Epstein victims sued and charged the bank with facilitating the sex offender’s crimes. JPMorgan kept Epstein as a private wealth client until 2013, in part because Staley vouched for him, despite internal concerns following Epstein’s 2008 conviction for sex crimes.
As pressure mounted on the bank, JPMorgan went from defending its former executive to shifting the blame for any fallout from Epstein to him in recent weeks.
One of the internal emails released in the recent lawsuits mentioned a review of the Epstein account is expected to be done by Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan; the bank said it had seen no evidence that the assessment had taken place. Plaintiffs have attempted to question Dimon in the case, an attempt the bank is resisting.
“To the extent that Staley knew of, participated in, or witnessed sexual abuse related to Epstein and did not report it to, or actively conceal it from JPMorgan,” it is Staley, not the bank, responsible for the injuries Epstein caused. JPMorgan said in its Wednesday filing.
JPMorgan also identified Staley as the “powerful finance executive” accused of sexually assaulting one of Epstein’s alleged victims in one of the lawsuits it faces.
Staley’s attorney, Kathleen Harris of Arnold & Porter, declined to comment. Staley, who left JPMorgan in 2013 and later became CEO of Barclays before stepping down from the London-based bank in 2021, has denied knowing about Epstein’s crimes. Epstein died by apparent suicide in 2019 while in jail awaiting trial on US sex trafficking charges.
Still, JPMorgan said in the filing that it did not admit the two plaintiffs’ claims were accurate, and in a statement called the lawsuits “misguided and baseless.”
“Prosecutors have made troubling allegations about the conduct of our former associate Jes Staley, and if true, he should be held accountable for his actions,” a spokeswoman for JPMorgan said.
“We expect all our employees at every level of the company to act with honesty and integrity,” she added. “If these allegations against Staley are true, he has breached this duty by putting his own personal interests ahead of the company’s.”
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