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JPMorgan's Dimon says other execs at the bank could have booted Epstein when he was a client

Marcel Obioha 172 June 1, 2023
JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon looks on during the inauguration of the new French headquarters of US' JP Morgan bank on June 29, 2021 in Paris.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified last week that top bank executive Mary Erdoes and the firm's then-head lawyer had the authority to boot sex predator Jeffrey Epstein as a customer well before Erdoes finally took that step in 2013.

Questions by lawyers to Dimon at his deposition Friday for two lawsuits against JPMorgan underscore that Erdoes and the lawyer, former JPMorgan general counsel Stephen Cutler, were aware of claims Epstein had preyed on young women while a client of the bank for years.

Erdoes in her own deposition, taken previously, admitted that she as early as 2006 was aware that Epstein was accused of paying cash to have underage girls and young women brought to his home, court filings reveal.

But Dimon on Friday repeatedly said he had no knowledge of such claims about Epstein, and that he was barely aware of him at all until 2019, according to a transcript of the deposition obtained by CNBC.

The lawsuits against the bank allege Epstein used money from his JPMorgan accounts for the sex trafficking of young women, and that the bank retained him as a customer to maintain his business despite serious warning flags about him.

One suit against the bank was filed by the government of the U.S Virgin Islands, where Epstein maintained a residence on a private island. The other suit was filed by an Epstein accuser who is seeking to certify the complaint as a class action for other victims.

During his deposition, Dimon was shown an email that JPMorgan's then-general counsel Cutler Cutler sent Erdoes about Epstein on July 21, 2011.

In that email, Cutler wrote: "I would like to put it and him behind us. Not a person we should do business with, period."

"This is not an honorable person in any way," Cutler wrote in an email a day earlier to Erdoes, another top executive, Jes Staley, and two other bank executives, according to a lawyer who was questioning Dimon during the deposition.

"He should not be a client," Cutler added in that email.

Cutler, in his own deposition last week, "testified under oath that Jes Staley and Mary Erdoes made the decision to retain Epstein as a customer of the bank," a lawyer told Dimon.

Dimon testified Friday that he was not aware of that email by Cutler when it was sent.

But he also said, "Mr. Cutler had the ultimate authority to kick him out if he thought it had gone too far."

"He was delegating reputational decisions to somebody else" Dimon said, apparently referring to Cutler's claim that the decision to retain Epstein was made by Staley and Erdoes.

Staley, like other powerful men such as former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, was a friend of Epstein. Staley had made social visits to Epstein's homes in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He is due to be deposed in the suits on June 10 and 11, according to a source familiar with the schedule.

Dimon was deposed at JPMorgan's headquarters in New York by lawyers for the plaintiffs, and for Staley, who JPMorgan argues in its own legal complaint against him is responsible for any civil liability a jury might find.

Epstein was terminated as a customer in 2013, two years after the emails and five years after he pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of soliciting sex from a minor.

As a result of that conviction, he had to register as a sex offender. Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019, a month after being arrested on federal child sex trafficking charges.

A lawyer asked Dimon during the deposition: "As CEO of private [banking] or asset and wealth management, Mary Erdoes could have decided to terminate Jeffrey Epstein as a customer, as a client, of JPMorgan; is that right?"

Dimon answered, "I generally would say that's true, yes."

Erdoes testified in her earlier deposition that JPMorgan dropped Epstein as a client in 2013 after she learned that his withdrawals from his accounts were for "actual cash," according to court filings.

"I have trust and respect in both of them," Dimon testified about Erdoes and Cutler.

"My view is had she known what she had known today, she would be saying exactly the same thing I said," Dimon said, referring to his statement that he would have terminated Epstein as a client if he knew about his conduct at the time.

"There's a chance that Jes knew, that's why they're different."

Dimon testified that he was not informed that Epstein was indicted in Florida for sex crimes in 2006, or of other concerns about him that others at the bank raised, the deposition reveals.

"I don't recall knowing anything about Jeffrey Epstein until the stories broke sometime in 2019" Dimon said, referring to when Epstein was arrested on federal child sex trafficking charges.

"I was surprised that I didn't even — had never even heard of the guy, pretty much. And how involved he was with so many people," Dimon said.

A lawyer then asked, "Were you aware that Jeffrey Epstien was promoting you to contacts as a candidate for Secretary of the Treasury?"

Dimon replied: "Nope."

When asked if the accusers of Epstein deserved an apology, Dimon said, "I think what happened to these women is atrocious, and I'm horrified at the amount of human trafficking that takes place."

NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992

"And I wouldn't mind personally apologizing to them, not because we committed the crime, we did not, and not because we believe we're responsible, but that any potential thing, what little role that we could have eased it or helped catch it quicker or something like that, or get it to law enforcement quicker or get law enforcement to react to it quicker, which they obviously didn't,  you know, I would apologize to them."

"For that, yes," he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Wednesday that legal documents in the cases show that Staley discussed Epstein with Dimon over the years, including when Epstein was arrested in Florida in 2006 and when he pleaded guilty in that case two years later.

"Staley also said that Dimon communicated with him various times about whether to maintain Epstein as a client through 2012," The Journal reported.

A JPMorgan spokeswoman in a statement about The Journal's article said, "We believe this is false."

"There is no evidence that any such communications ever occurred — nothing in the voluminous number of documents reviewed and nothing in the nearly dozen depositions taken, including that of our own CEO," said Patricia Wexler, the spokeswoman.

Wexler later Friday told CNBC, "Had the Firm believed he was engaged in an ongoing sex trafficking operation, Epstein would not have been retained as client."

"In hindsight, we regret he was ever a client," Wexler said.