When does giving someone the benefit of the doubt cross the line and stick your head in the sand? That question needs to be answered in light of the newly publicized allegations regarding Jess Staley.
Epstein, a client of JP Morgan for more than a decade, died in 2019 while awaiting trial on additional charges of abusing young women and girls. But his connection has cast a long shadow over everyone from tech giants to royalty. Staley, who served as a point person at the Bank of the United States alongside Epstein, Lost his job as Barclays CEO in 2021 when he chose to fight preliminary findings from British regulators that they had been misleading about their relationship.
The banks were embroiled in further scandals last week when U.S. Virgin Islands authorities were embroiled in scandals. made public Some of Staley and Epstein’s emails were part of a lawsuit alleging JP Morgan facilitated sex trafficking on Epstein’s island property. Staley, who is not a defendant, has repeatedly denied having knowledge of Epstein’s wrongdoing. Barclays declined to comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Staley exchanged 1,200 e-mails with Epstein using work e-mails to get what the lawsuit describes as “a picture of a young woman in a seductive pose” from a financier. claim to have received it. She also claims that Epstein used her JP Morgan account to pay her more than $1 million to at least 20 of her sex crime victims. In 2009, Staley wrote Epstein a letter of “deep” friendship and a “heartfelt hug.” When Epstein replied:[W]How about a hat character next? Staley replied, “Beauty and the Beast.”
In the lawsuit, JP Morgan’s alleged reaction to mounting evidence of Epstein’s wrongdoing appears almost ludicrous. After filing a guilty plea in 2008, an employee speculated that his $120 million in assets were “on hold” from the bank. [CEO Jamie] Dimon Review”. Yet the disgraced financier remained a client. JP Morgan said last week, “We have not seen any evidence of such a review.” If Dimon didn’t review it, who did it? The lawsuit says that when the bank later decided to ask Epstein directly about the trafficking allegations, they sent Staley.
In 2010, another email asked: . . Are you still happy with this client who is now a registered sex offender? ‘ Response: ‘These stories pop up.’
JP Morgan certainly believes that convicted felons are entitled to bank accounts, and banks are expected to exercise extreme caution in all emails and transactions involving free-spending tycoons. Banks also closed Epstein’s accounts in 2013, shortly after Staley left and before Epstein became the target of global outrage.
Barclays never banked Epstein, but the board faces tough questions about their choices in 2020 after he was rearrested. The emails ended up in the hands of UK regulators, who launched an investigation into whether Staley misled them about the nature of Epstein’s relationship.
Still, the Barclays board insisted Staley had “complete confidence” and had stuck with him for nearly another year. People familiar with the process say the board made the decision based on its own research. The email was included, but not the allegedly “seductive” photo attachment. They also factored in Staley’s stubborn loyalties and his history of repeatedly denying he knew anything about sexual misconduct.
People are innocent until proven guilty, and a serving felon deserves a second chance. But demanding indisputable evidence can mask intentional blindness. If the parties involved are wealthy and connected to a powerful network of individuals, the pressure can only go one way.
JP Morgan takes a stance of ignoring inconvenient facts. In 2014, it paid $2.6 billion to close a criminal investigation into allegations that it turned a blind eye to Bernard Madoff’s giant Ponzi scheme. Barclays had a history of indulging Staley when he pushed legal and ethical boundaries. The board had previously sided with him during his two attempts to reveal the identity of an anonymous whistleblower and was fined £642,430.
Hindsight is always 20/20. But whether Epstein’s interest in JPMorgan’s interest in keeping Epstein’s business and the Barclays board’s trust in Staley ultimately hurt both financial institutions, and may continue to do so. It is fair to ask if there is.
https://www.ft.com/content/e9120ad2-ac95-419b-9945-96c442ad7c66 Jeffrey Epstein’s long shadow falls on JPMorgan and Barclays again