Jes Staley’s lawyers have attacked JPMorgan Chase’s attempt to make its former executive liable for harm caused by providing bank services to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, arguing the case was “completely absent” of concrete claims.
“They had several months of discovery to look into Mr Staley’s emails . . . to bring their best shot,” Staley’s lawyer Stephen Wohlgemuth told a New York federal court on Friday, in an attempt to get the case dismissed. “They have to make the allegations . . . they have to say what is true and what is not.”
JPMorgan sued Staley, who spent more than 30 years at the bank, in March, alleging that he breached his fiduciary duties and acted in bad faith by disguising his true relationship with Epstein, which allegedly included several visits to the disgraced financier’s properties and emails in which photographs of young women were exchanged.
The bank is seeking to make the 66-year-old liable for any damages awarded in two cases brought against JPMorgan last year by an unnamed Epstein accuser and by the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home. Those suits accuse JPMorgan of profiting from human trafficking by keeping Epstein on as a client for 15 years, despite numerous red flags.
Staley, who was fired by JPMorgan in 2013, is himself accused by the Epstein victim of rape and of witnessing Epstein’s crimes — claims he has strongly denied. The bank has said it first learned about these claims in the past few months.
Leonard Gail, a lawyer for JPMorgan, reiterated the bank’s contention that Epstein was retained because “Staley vouched for [him] within the bank” and that the former executive should be liable because “all harm or injury that the plaintiffs allege flows from [Epstein] being a client”.
However, while JPMorgan was seeking to make Staley responsible for assurances he allegedly gave the bank about Epstein, it had failed to state how and when they were made, Wohlgemuth said. The US Virgin Islands complaint against JPMorgan cites an internal meeting in January 2011 after which Staley was asked for his opinion on Epstein and allegedly vouched for him, but the bank had failed to confirm whether this incident actually occurred, he added.
“This alleged vouching . . . would have been made to JPMorgan employees,” Wohlgemuth said. “What does the bank say? Was there vouching? What did Mr Staley actually say . . . who did he say it to and why did they rely on it?
“That is their burden, and they have not even tried to meet it.”
Judge Jed Rakoff said he would rule on the motion to dismiss by the end of the month. Staley — who went on to become chief executive of the UK bank Barclays, but resigned following an investigation into the way he characterised his relationship with Epstein — is set to be deposed by JPMorgan’s lawyers next month.