In a heated legal battle surrounding the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the V.I. Department of Justice has responded to a filing by JPMorgan Chase that calls on the court to allow its evidence about the USVI's involvement in Epstein's sex trafficking enterprise to proceed.
"JPMorgan Chase facilitated Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse, and should be held accountable for violating the law. This is an obvious attempt to shift blame away from JPMorgan Chase, which had a legal responsibility to report the evidence in its possession of Epstein’s human trafficking, and failed to do so," the V.I. Dept. of Justice said in a statement provided to the Consortium.
The department's statement comes in response to JPMorgan Chase's recent legal filing that vehemently opposes the U.S. Virgin Islands’ attempt to dismiss some of the bank's defenses in the lawsuit. The bank has accused the U.S. Virgin Islands' government of being the primary enabler of Epstein's sex trafficking enterprise, headquartered on the island of Little St. James.
Throughout the 30-page heavily redacted document, the bank's legal team alleges that the territory’s government is seeking to exclude these defenses in an attempt to evade its own responsibility in enabling Epstein's criminal activities. They argue that the government's claim that these defenses would impose an additional burden in terms of discovery is a tactical move to cover up the territory's complicity in Epstein's operations.
The bank further alleges that Epstein had established ties with the local political class, including Cecile Galiber de Jongh, the wife of former Governor John de Jongh Jr. They claim Cecile de Jongh managed Epstein’s local companies even while she served as the First Lady and was the "primary conduit for spreading money and influence" on Epstein’s behalf within the government.
The bank's legal team also alleges that Epstein donated to Congressional Delegate Stacey Plaskett, who reportedly responded with a personal visit to his Manhattan townhouse for a meeting. They also accuse the VI Economic Development Authority (EDA) — at a time when now-Governor Albert Bryan sat on the EDA board when he was commissioner of Labor — of being aware of Epstein's past yet extended lucrative tax benefits to two of Epstein’s companies between 2012 and 2014. The attorneys claim that local officials not only failed to recognize Epstein's criminal activities but some actively assisted him.
Governor Bryan, who fired former Attorney General Denise George shortly after she filed this lawsuit, said back in January that he was “sick and tired of our islands being associated with Jeffery Epstein” when pressed by the Consortium about the former AG’s abrupt departure from office. The attorneys claim that local officials not only failed to recognize Epstein's criminal activities but some actively assisted him.
In another heavily-redacted section of the filing, JP Morgan claims that Epstein’s influence extended to the legislative process in the territory as well, and government regulatory and enforcement officials only exercised a cursory amount of oversight when it came to his compliance with prevailing sex crime statutes and regulations. Local officials, the attorneys claim, didn’t just ignore or fail to recognize Epstein’s criminal activities – some actively assisted him in his illegal endeavors, allowing him, a registered sex offender by then, to travel freely through airports in the territory accompanied by young women, without any noticeable scrutiny or surveillance.
JP Morgan Chase argues that if the court sides with the territory’s lawyers and grants the motion to strike the bank's defenses, the true extent of the territory’s complicity in allowing Epstein to operate his sex trafficking hub may never come to light.