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The backstory: To give you a quick refresher, in 2008, multimillionaire hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein faced charges of sexual misconduct, but he managed to avoid federal charges by pleading guilty to state prostitution charges.
Then, in 2019, he was arrested again on federal charges of sex trafficking minors. But he was found dead in his jail cell before he could stand trial, and his death was ruled a suicide.
More recently: Some recently unsealed court documents include disturbing allegations about Jes Staley, the former CEO of Barclays, and his connection to Epstein. Before joining Barclays, Staley was in charge of JPMorgan Chase's financial relationship with Epstein for about 15 years. Now, the US Virgin Islands government has sued JPMorgan Chase for allegedly helping Epstein in his sex trafficking scheme.
The development: JPMorgan Chase is accused of ignoring red flags about Epstein's accounts and "turning a blind eye" to his illegal activities. The complaint says Staley exchanged more than 1,000 sexually suggestive emails with Epstein from his work email between 2008 and 2012. The court docs suggest Staley and Epstein were close pals and that Staley may have been involved in Epstein's trafficking scheme. Staley is also accused of visiting Epstein's home in Florida and private island on multiple occasions.
Some of the emails allegedly included photos of young women in suggestive poses and used the names of Disney princesses for them. For example, one email from Staley to Epstein allegedly said, "Say hi to Snow White," with Epstein responding, "What character would you like next?"
Neither Staley nor JPMorgan Chase has been charged with any crimes, and they're both keeping quiet about the situation, although Staley has denied the allegations. Over the last three years, an investigation by a UK watchdog and the Bank of England has been ongoing into Staley regarding how transparent he was about his relationship with Epstein to the board of Barclays.
"These communications show a close personal relationship and 'profound' friendship between the two men and even suggest that Staley may have been involved in Epstein's sex-trafficking operation," said US Virgin Islands lawyers in allegations against JPMorgan Chase.
"At least 20 individuals paid through JPMorgan accounts were victims of trafficking and sexual assault in Little St James, New York, and/or other Epstein properties," said the court filing.
"So when all hell breaks l[o]ose, and the world is crumbling, I will come here, and be at peace," said former Barclays CEO Jes Staley in one email sent from Epstein's private island. "Presently, I'm in the hot tub with a glass of white wine. This is an amazing place. Truly amazing. Next time, we're here together. I owe you much. And I deeply appreciate our friendship. I have few so profound."
"This is a really, really important case, not just because of what it may reveal about the Staley-Epstein relationship, but the questions it raises about the Barclays board and boards in general," said Simon Learmount, professor in corporate governance at Cambridge Judge Business School, referring to how the case against JPMorgan has broad implications.