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Jeffrey Epstein's banks seek to end accusers' lawsuits

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -JPMorgan Chase & Co and Deutsche Bank AG called on a U.S. judge to dismiss lawsuits by victims of Jeffrey Epstein who accused the banks of enabling the late financier's sexual abuses.

Both requests were filed on Tuesday night in Manhattan federal court, in proposed class action lawsuits by unnamed victims seeking financial damages.

The banks said there were no allegations they knew about or actively did anything to further Epstein's sex trafficking, and had no legal duty to protect the women from his abuses.

Epstein was a client of JPMorgan from about 2000 to 2013, and of Deutsche Bank from 2013 to 2018. The plaintiffs have said numerous cash payments from the banks were used to pay Epstein's victims.

JPMorgan's filing was also that bank's most extensive discussion of the alleged role of former investment banking chief Jes Staley, including an allegation he had "personally observed" Epstein's abuse of the plaintiff known as Jane Doe 1.

Staley is not a defendant and has denied wrongdoing.

JPMorgan called the accusations about Staley "conclusory," and said there was neither evidence it knew Epstein battered the plaintiff, nor a basis to impute Staley's knowledge to the bank.

It also said providing Epstein with banking services did not amount to "substantial assistance" in his abuses.

"The complaint emphasizes JPMC's alleged failure to act on warning signs" about Epstein, the bank said. "Such allegations cannot establish substantial assistance."

David Boies, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in a statement on Wednesday said: "We are disappointed in the banks' continuing effort to avoid taking responsibility for their role in the expansion and perpetuation of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring."

Staley left JPMorgan in 2013, and later became chief executive of Barclays Plc.

He stepped down from Barclays in 2021 amid a dispute with British financial regulators over his ties to Epstein.

Staley's relationship with Epstein is also at issue in a lawsuit by the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned two private islands, seeking to hold JPMorgan liable for ignoring Epstein's sex trafficking there.

Epstein killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The cases are Jane Doe 1 v Deutsche Bank AG et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-10018, and Jane Doe 1 v JPMorgan Chase & Co in the same court, No. 22-10019.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Diane Craft)