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Victims of Jeffrey Epstein settle lawsuit with JPMorgan Chase

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Two hundred ninety million dollars. That is how much JPMorgan Chase is prepared to pay victims of Jeffrey Epstein to settle a major lawsuit that those survivors brought against the bank. Epstein was one of JPMorgan's customers for 15 years, and as NPR's David Gura reports, the plaintiffs allege that the firm helped facilitate Epstein's sex trafficking operation.

DAVID GURA, BYLINE: If a judge approves the agreement, this substantial sum will be divvied up among more than a hundred of Jeffrey Epstein's victims. That's according to David Boies, who is one of their attorneys.

DAVID BOIES: It's a major step in achieving vindication and compensation for the survivors.

GURA: They alleged JPMorgan Chase knew or at least should have known about Epstein's abuse. Notably, the bank didn't cut ties with him, even after Epstein was sentenced to jail for soliciting prostitution with a child. Epstein was awaiting trial for sex trafficking when he died by suicide in 2019. JPMorgan maintains it didn't know. In May, its CEO, Jamie Dimon, told Bloomberg he was sad the firm had any relationship with Epstein whatsoever.

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JAMIE DIMON: Obviously, had we known then what we know today, we would have done things differently, but it's very unfortunate...

GURA: In a statement, JPMorgan called its association with Epstein a mistake. The settlement comes after a string of embarrassing revelations in hundreds of email messages and depositions with executives. Dimon himself sat for a deposition last month for more than five hours. Epstein kept his accounts at the bank, and he brought in business. He also withdrew tens of thousands of dollars from his accounts in cash, withdrawals that weren't reported. For years, Epstein had a close relationship with one of Dimon's deputies, Jes Staley. Staley later led the British bank Barclays, where, in 2021, his friendship with Epstein was his undoing.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Barclays CEO Jes Staley is stepping down, this following an investigation into his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

GURA: JPMorgan is now suing Staley, alleging he misled the firm about Epstein. Boies calls this settlement historic, but he says institutions have to take more responsibility.

BOIES: It is, I think, a object lesson of how much farther we need to go as a society to really implement the rule of law not only for the rich and the powerful but for the weak and the vulnerable.

GURA: JPMorgan's Epstein-related legal troubles are not over yet. The U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein lived, has filed a similar suit against the bank that is still pending. David Gura, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.