Jeffrey Epstein got $300 million in US Virgin Islands tax incentives, JPMorgan says

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase said the U.S. Virgin Islands had given Jeffrey Epstein more than $300 million in tax incentives and waived sex offender monitoring requirements, shielding the disgraced late financier as he gave money and gifts to high officials.

In a court filing late Tuesday, the largest US bank described how Epstein allegedly paid law enforcement agencies such as the Virgin Islands Police Department.

JPMorgan also alleged in the documents that Epstein had ties to officials in the US Virgin Islands, including former first lady Cecile de Jongh, who the bank said knew about Epstein’s crimes.

Spokespersons for the U.S. Virgin Islands did not immediately respond to after-hours requests for comment. The Territory Police Department and de Jongh did not immediately respond to similar requests.

JPMorgan’s filing, redacted versions of which had previously been filed, is part of its defense against a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court by the US Virgin Islands regarding its relationship with Epstein, a client from 1998 to 2013.

The territory, where Epstein owned two neighboring islands, accused JPMorgan of facilitating Epstein’s sex crimes by providing banking services and allowing him to pay his victims.

Epstein died by suicide at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

THE ‘BONA FIDE’ RESIDENCE IN EPSTEIN

JPMorgan had described a “quid pro quo” relationship between Epstein and US Virgin Islands officials such as de Jongh, whose husband John served as governor from 2007 to 2015.

The bank said Cecile de Jongh managed Epstein’s local businesses for eight years and helped secure visas for some victims, in return for Epstein providing salary, bonuses and school tuition for their children.

The filing describes Epstein’s Financial Trust Co, also known as Southern Trust Co, receiving US Virgin Islands $219.8 million in tax benefits from 1999 to 2012 and $80.6 million from 2013 to 2018.

Regarding some benefits, the bank said C├ęcile de Jongh certified in 2009 that Epstein was a “bona fide resident”, despite serving a 13-month sentence imposed after pleading guilty in 2008 to a charge of prostitution in Florida.

JPMorgan also said the territory has lifted restrictions on Epstein’s ability to travel, despite his sex offender status.

He said the territory’s Department of Justice repeatedly failed to provide timely notification of Epstein’s status under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, “something that Epstein even spoke personally with the USVI DOJ.”

The bank also said “Epstein was often not present” when the territory checked on him at his home, in what JPMorgan called “cursive” inspections.

STALEY LINKS

JPMorgan’s latest revelations came a day after the US Virgin Islands released a 22-page document prepared by the bank in late 2019 following Epstein’s death.

The document describes Epstein’s close ties to former JPMorgan private banking chief Jes Staley, including dozens of messages between them or involving other bank officials.

JPMorgan last week reached a $290 million tentative settlement to resolve a lawsuit brought by dozens of Epstein accusers who said the financier abused them as teenagers or young women.

The bank wants Staley to cover its losses in this lawsuit and in the US Virgin Islands lawsuit.

Staley left JPMorgan in 2013 and then spent six years as chief executive of Barclays. He expressed regret for his friendship with Epstein and denied knowing about his crimes.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Gerry Doyle)

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