'Will That Work for You'? The Unredacted JPMorgan Document Exposing Epstein's Web of Influence in USVI's Political Class

  • Janeka Simon
  • May 26, 2023

Dark money By. GETTY IMAGES

On Wednesday, Consortium journalists viewed an unredacted version of a document filed by JP Morgan earlier this week. The bank's filing was a response to the Virgin Islands Government's attempt to dismiss some of the bank's defenses in the ongoing lawsuit. Although previously obscured by significant redactions, the document suggested involvement of senior political figures in the Virgin Islands in protecting convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

This enhanced access to the filing provides a clearer understanding of the unfolding legal drama.

What these newly uncovered details allege are cynical efforts by current and former public officials, even after his 2008 conviction for child prostitution, to facilitate a massive influence-buying operation and funnel Epstein-linked funds to children’s organizations and charities. 

JP Morgan’s attorneys accuse Cecile de Jongh, wife of former Governor John De Jongh, of being Epstein’s “primary conduit for spreading money and influence throughout the USVI.” She is accused of guiding Epstein on “how to buy control of the USVI political class.” In the filing, JP Morgan claims to have evidence showing email correspondence between the then-First Lady and Epstein, in which she suggested that he could get “loyalty and access” from then-Senator Celestino White if Epstein put him “on some sort of monthly retainer.” Although it is not clear from the bank’s account when the transaction took place, evidence before the court purports to show that Epstein did pay White $10,000 “to consult on changing the name of one of Epstein’s islands.” 

cecile (1) Former First Lady Cecile de Jongh

The bank also submitted evidence it says will show that former Governor de Jongh benefited directly from Epstein’s cash. Not only did he allegedly receive $15,000 towards his “Special Events Fund”, but Epstein allegedly paid the school fees of the then-sitting governor’s children. In an email reportedly from Mrs. de Jongh, she tells Epstein that his generosity has allowed the couple to divert funds from their children’s upkeep to Mr. de Jongh’s election campaign. Epstein was also willing, according to the bank’s lawyers, to lend Governor de Jongh money to fight embezzlement charges that were lodged against him in 2015. Those charges were dropped the next year after he repaid the government almost $400,000.

The newly-unredacted filing from JP Morgan accuses several senior politicians of actively endeavoring to direct Epstein’s money towards causes that impacted the territory’s children. The court document names former Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources Dawn Henry, alleging that she wrote to Epstein about a potential donation of funds. “If you prefer to donate to school libraries I can connect you with the Commissioner for Education,” Ms. Henry is alleged to have told Epstein. According to the JPMorgan, Henry, who in 2022 joined the list of candidates seeking election to the Senate, subsequently admitted that when Epstein was alive, “we weren't really willing to hold him accountable.”

As recently as 2018, JPMorgan’s attorneys allege, senior government officials were still encouraging Epstein-linked funds to flow to initiatives involving small children. Now-Governor Albert Bryan Jr. is reported to have suggested local schools to which Epstein could donate money, and also reportedly requested that $30,000 from the man convicted of child prostitution go to the Virgin Islands Little League.

JPMorgan’s filing questions the circumstances under which the VI Economic Development Authority approved lucrative tax incentives for Epstein’s locally registered companies, during the time when First Lady de Jongh was working for those companies and receiving compensation of as much as $200,000 annually, and while the then-governor himself was having his children’s tuition paid by Epstein himself. 

Not only did Epstein seek to access and influence members of the executive branch, the bank claims, but he also tried to shape proceedings in the territory’s legislative body as well. In 2011, JPMorgan claims Epstein’s political fixer, First Lady de Jongh, emailed him a draft copy of a bill that would update sex offender monitoring laws in the USVI.  “Will it work for you?” she is reported to have asked him, having shown him the proposed language. He reportedly responded with suggestions for tweaking the draft legislation to better suit his purposes. Epstein’s amendments were necessary, he allegedly told Mrs. de Jongh, because “otherwise I could not go for a day trip to Tortola at the last minute.” He also had privacy concerns surrounding public access to information about his whereabouts and companions.

Jeffrey Epstein was first convicted in 2008. He pleaded guilty in Florida to a state charge (one of two) of procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18. Epstein served 13 months of an 18-month prison sentence.

The bill that ultimately passed in 2012 in the V.I. Legislature reportedly did not please Epstein. Once again, the First Lady de Jongh is reported to have offered her support. “All is not lost,” she is said to have written to him. “We will figure something out by coming up with a game plan to get around these obstacles.”

Part of that game plan, according to JPMorgan attorneys, was to “work through” then-Senators White and Carlton Dowe, as well as then-Attorney General Vincent Frazer “to give the discretion for status quo for you.” Allegedly, according to Mrs. de Jongh, granting that discretion was “the least” Frazer could do for Epstein. 

One of the remaining few pages bearing heavy redactions seems to deal with the details of the accommodations and discretion that was granted to Epstein as he traveled in and out of the territory on his way to Little St. James, the alleged hub of his sex trafficking enterprise. Regulations were either not enforced, or enforced incompetently, said JPMorgan.

And it wasn’t just a case of looking the other way. JPMorgan’s filing claims that Mrs. de Jongh, again in her capacity as “fixer” for Epstein, arranged for three young women to enroll in a specially created class at the University of the Virgin Islands so that they could be eligible for student visas. The year the women were enrolled, bank lawyers say, one of Epstein’s companies donated $20,000 to UVI. The First Lady also liaised with officials to ensure another young woman received a license to operate a dental practice in the territory, the court filing alleges. 

Public officials also seemed eager to help Epstein travel. Evidence entered in court purports to show him speaking to Mrs. de Jongh about the “great relationship” he used to enjoy with a former airport supervisor, and complaining about a new employee “who has been difficult lately.” 

The USVI Attorney General’s Office responded to the Consortium’s initial story by attempting to redirect focus back to the subject of the lawsuit, initiated by the USVI — what JPMorgan did or did not know about what Epstein was doing with the funds the bank was handling for him. The newly-unredacted filing, however, raises new questions about what the local officials named – the de Jonghs, Bryan, Henry, White and others — did or did not know about what Epstein was doing in the territory they were appointed and elected to lead.

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