JPMorgan says former US Virgin Islands first lady sought visas for Jeffrey Epstein victims

FILE PHOTO: JPMorgan Chase Bank in New York

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co on Thursday unveiled new accusations that the U.S. Virgin Islands was complicit in Jeffrey Epstein's sex crimes, including that a former first lady for the territory sought student visas for some of the disgraced financier's victims.

The largest U.S. bank also singled out Governor Albert Bryan as being among government officials who maintained "close ties" with Epstein, saying that in 2018 he arranged donations from Epstein to schools and little leagues.

JPMorgan made the accusations in a filing in Manhattan federal court, where the U.S. Virgin Islands wants the bank held liable in a civil lawsuit for keeping Epstein as a client from 1998 to 2013, the last five years after he pleaded guilty to prostitution.

The New York-based bank has countered that the territory had "unclean hands" for protecting Epstein, who died in 2019, and awarding him millions of dollars in tax breaks in exchange for his "money, advice, influence, and favors."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Virgin Islands' attorney general's office called the new accusations "an obvious attempt to shift blame," repeating an earlier statement. Bryan's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Thursday's filing was partially redacted, but had fewer redactions than a version filed on Tuesday.

JPMorgan also faces a proposed class action by women who say Epstein sexually abused them, and that the bank should have cut ties with him sooner.

Epstein, 66, died in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.

The city's medical examiner called Epstein's death a suicide. Epstein's former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell is appealing her conviction and 20-year prison sentence for aiding in his sexual abuses.

'WILL IT WORK FOR YOU?'

Many of JPMorgan's new accusations concern Cecile de Jongh, whose husband, John de Jongh, was governor from 2007 to 2015.

The bank called the former first lady Epstein's "primary conduit for spreading money and influence throughout the USVI government," and "a ready partner" in his desire to exploit young women.

Email requests for comment from Cecile and John de Jongh were not immediately acknowledged. Neither is a party to the litigation.

The bank said de Jongh once arranged for Epstein to meet a local immigration lawyer to help one woman obtain a visa, and asked a local university whether three women could enroll there to obtain student visas.

JPMorgan also said de Jongh managed Epstein's local companies throughout her husband's governorship, with Epstein paying their children's tuition, and worked with Epstein in 2011 when the U.S. Virgin Islands was drafting new sex offender laws.

"This is the suggested language; will it work for you?" de Jongh asked Epstein in a May 2011 email, according to JPMorgan.

The bank's chief executive, Jamie Dimon, who is not a defendant, is expected to testify under oath in a deposition on Friday. Bryan faces a June 6 deposition.

JPMorgan is separately suing Jes Staley, a former Epstein friend who once led its asset management business, to have him cover losses it may incur in the other two lawsuits.

The case is Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands v. JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-10904.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)