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Deutsche Bank to pay $75-million to settle Epstein suit

Deutsche Bank to pay $75-million to settle Epstein suit
Signage for Deutsche Bank AG at the bank's headquarters in the financial district of Frankfurt, Germany, on Friday, 6 May 2022.

Deutsche Bank AG agreed to pay $75-million to settle a lawsuit in which victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse accused the bank of facilitating his sex-trafficking operation, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs.

Deutsche Bank agreed to settle after US District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled in March that the lawsuit filed by a victim identified only as Jane Doe may proceed against it, as well as a separate but nearly identical suit filed by another Jane Doe against JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“The settlement will allow dozens of survivors of Jeffrey Epstein to finally attempt to restore their faith in our system knowing that all individuals and entities who facilitated Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation are finally being held accountable,” lawyers at Edwards Pottinger, one of the firms that brought the suit, said in a statement.

The suits were allowed to move ahead under the federal Trafficking Victim Protection Act because the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged the banks “participated” in a commercial sex-trafficking venture; knew or disregarded that force, fraud or coercion would be used; and benefited from their participation, the judge explained in an opinion on 1 May that elaborated on his initial ruling.

JPMorgan is still fighting the suit against it, and opposing the woman’s request to be allowed to represent other victims in a class-action lawsuit.

Deutsche Bank hasn’t admitted to any wrongdoing, a person with knowledge of the agreement said. The bank said it has bolstered its controls.

“In recent years Deutsche Bank has made considerable progress in remedying a number of past issues, including investing more than €4-billion to bolster our controls as well as training and operational processes,” Dylan Riddle, a spokesman for the bank, said in a statement. “Further, we’ve increased the size of our anti-financial crime team to 1,900 employees.”

In their lawsuits, the women alleged Epstein had access to large amounts of cash to fuel his operation and avoided cash withdrawals that would raise red flags. Epstein was a client at JPMorgan from 1998 to 2013. After the bank cut ties with him, he moved his accounts to Deutsche Bank until 2018.

Epstein was charged with sex trafficking in 2019 and found dead in his prison cell weeks later, in what was ruled a suicide.  

Both banks were accused by the victims of ignoring red flags in order to profit from Epstein’s business.

The high-profile litigation has cast new light on the internal discussions at JPMorgan about keeping Epstein as a client in the face of mounting allegations of sex abuse. Epstein’s relationship with Jes Staley has become the cornerstone of the litigation, with Doe alleging the former JPMorgan executive knew about Epstein’s crimes. Staley has denied the accusation.

The US Virgin Islands is suing JPMorgan for facilitating similar activity, some of which took place on Epstein’s private island there. That suit was filed after the two Jane Doe lawsuits. BM/DM

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