JPMorgan Chase & Co. had ties to Jeffrey Epstein that ran deeper than the bank has acknowledged and extended years beyond when it decided to close the convicted s-x offender’s accounts, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mary Erdoes, a top lieutenant to Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, made two trips to Epstein’s townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, in 2011 and 2013, when Epstein still was a client of the bank, said the people familiar with the matter. She exchanged dozens of emails with him and discussed sharing with him fees related to a charitable fund the bank was considering launching, the people said.
John Duffy, who ran JPMorgan’s U.S. private bank for the ultrarich, went to Epstein’s townhouse for a meeting in April 2013, the people said. One month later, the private bank renewed an authorization allowing Epstein to borrow money against his accounts despite repeated warnings from compliance staffers about his unusual banking practices.
Justin Nelson, one of Epstein’s bankers at JPMorgan, had about a half-dozen meetings at Epstein’s townhouse between 2014 and 2017, the people said. He also traveled to Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico in 2016, the people said.
PMorgan has said it closed Epstein’s accounts in 2013. Ms. Erdoes has previously said through a JPMorgan spokesman that the only time she remembered meeting Epstein was the day she fired him as a client of JPMorgan’s private bank. Ms. Erdoes declined to comment for this article.
Epstein was convicted of soliciting a minor for pr---------n in 2008 and forced to register as a s-x offender. He was arrested in 2019, accused of orchestrating a scheme to traffic and se-----y abuse girls.
The bank has denied knowing about Epstein’s crimes and has sued one of its former executives, Jes Staley, accusing him of misleading the bank about Epstein’s character and conduct. Mr. Staley’s lawyers have said the allegations against him are baseless.
The new details show that JPMorgan was treating Epstein like a star client after his first conviction and despite repeated warnings from its own employees. And after JPMorgan closed Epstein’s accounts, bankers kept meeting with him for years.
A JPMorgan spokesman said the level of interaction with Epstein wasn’t atypical for a client of a private bank. Any meeting held with Epstein after 2013, the spokesman said, was regarding other JPMorgan bank clients whom Epstein represented.
Mr. Nelson declined to comment, the spokesman said. Mr. Duffy, who no longer works at the bank, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
A pair of lawsuits filed against JPMorgan late last year in federal court in Manhattan have drawn fresh attention to the bank’s ties to Epstein, who died in 2019 in New York jail of what the city’s medical examiner said was a su----e. At the time, he was awaiting trial on s-x-trafficking charges. The lawsuits, brought by a woman who has accused Epstein of se-ual abuse and by the U.S. Virgin Islands—home to Epstein’s private island getaway—alleged that the bank moved the money that was used to pay off his purported victims.
JPMorgan said it isn’t liable for Epstein’s crimes. Through a spokeswoman, lawyers for the Virgin Islands and the Epstein accuser said the public filings in the lawsuits speak for themselves.
In response to the two lawsuits, JPMorgan has handed over documents detailing interactions between Epstein and more than 20 employees and executives, past and present. Many of them have given sworn testimony in depositions, and Mr. Dimon, the CEO, is expected to do the same next month.
Epstein became a JPMorgan client in about 1998, according to documents filed in connection with the lawsuits. Over the years, the bank would come to manage some 55 Epstein-related accounts containing hundreds of millions of dollars, the documents show.
Epstein formed a close bond with Mr. Staley, who ran the private bank that caters to the firm’s wealthiest clients. Epstein connected JPMorgan to Glenn Dubin, co-founder of Highbridge Capital Management, one of the fastest-growing hedge-fund firms of the 2000s. JPMorgan bought a controlling stake in Highbridge in 2004 for more than $1 billion. Epstein earned a finder’s fee of about $15 million, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
The next year, the Palm Beach, Fla., police department launched an investigation after several teenage girls said Epstein paid them for massages and se-----y as--ulted them. He was indicted in 2006 for s-x crimes.
That year, JPMorgan executives and compliance staffers began writing emails and memos sharing press reports about Epstein and discussing what to do with his accounts, classifying them as “high risk,” according to the Virgin Islands lawsuit.
JPMorgan executives were aware that Epstein had been accused of using cash to pay for girls to come to his house, Ms. Erdoes said in a previously reported deposition for the lawsuits. A compliance team pointed out that Epstein routinely made large cash withdrawals, up to $80,000 at a time and more than $750,000 a year, according to the lawsuit.
Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 in Florida state court to procuring and soliciting a minor for pr---------n. He was sentenced to 18 months and required to register as a s-x offender. He ultimately served about 13 months in a work-release program.
Epstein advised JPMorgan’s Mr. Staley in 2008 as he negotiated his compensation at the bank, according to the lawsuit. In 2009, Mr. Staley visited Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion and Little St. James, his private island, the Virgin Islands lawsuit said.
The Virgin Islands lawsuit said communication between the two men “suggest that Staley may have been involved in Epstein’s s-x-trafficking operation.” The suit alleges Epstein wired money to a woman around the time that Mr. Staley stayed at Epstein’s Palm Beach, Fla., mansion and then again to the same woman when Mr. Staley told Epstein he would be in London.
Mr. Staley has said he was in the dark about Epstein’s alleged crimes and regrets their long-running friendship.
In September 2009, Mr. Staley was promoted to a new job running JPMorgan’s sprawling corporate and investment bank. Ms. Erdoes took over running its asset and wealth-management unit.
Mr. Staley visited Little St. James that November. “Presently, I’m in the hot tub with a glass of white wine,” Mr. Staley emailed Epstein, according to the lawsuit. “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.”
JPMorgan’s compliance department was pressuring the bank to drop Epstein. “See below new allegations of an investigation related to child trafficking—are you still comfortable with this client who is now a registered s-x offender,” one compliance officer wrote in a 2010 email, according to a recent filing in the Virgin Islands suit.
JPMorgan stuck with Epstein and granted him the ability that year to borrow against his $50 million account.
In January 2011, the bank’s anti-money-laundering compliance director contacted general counsel Stephen Cutler to get him to re-approve the relationship, according to the recent filing. Mr. Cutler didn’t respond to a request for comment.
A review of the relationship fell to Mr. Staley. Epstein told him “there was no truth to the allegations, no evidence,” compliance officials reported in 2011, the Virgin Islands lawsuit said. “We will continue to monitor the accounts and cash usage closely going forward.”
Mr. Staley traveled to Little St. James again in January 2011, the people said.
In March of that year, Mr. Cutler asked a member of his team to seek information about Epstein from prosecutors, but the U.S. attorney in Miami didn’t disclose whether it was conducting a criminal investigation, according to the people familiar with the matter. The bank’s anti-money-laundering division recommended closing Epstein’s accounts, the Virgin Islands lawsuit said.
Top bank executives continued meeting with Epstein. Epstein had pitched to JPMorgan a multibillion-dollar donor-advised philanthropy fund, where he would help bring in wealthy clients that could put in a minimum $100 million, according to the people familiar with the matter.
For months, Ms. Erdoes, Mr. Staley and Epstein discussed working together on the fund. Epstein’s potential compensation was a sticking point, according to emails reviewed by the Journal.
“Everyone is marching together to create something very powerful and we will solve the comp issues,” Ms. Erdoes wrote to Epstein in October 2011.
The fund never got off the ground.
Ms. Erdoes visited Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse in 2011 and 2013, said the people familiar with the matter. The 2011 meeting was about settling a lawsuit Epstein had filed against Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan had acquired, over losses from the investment bank’s collapse, the JPMorgan spokesman said.
Ms. Erdoes played a role in negotiating that settlement with Epstein for JPMorgan, according to the emails reviewed by the Journal. The bank offered Epstein $9.2 million to resolve the lawsuit, the emails show.
Mr. Nelson, who is currently a managing director at JPMorgan working with hedge-fund founders and big investors, visited Epstein at his New York townhouse several times, accompanied by other JPMorgan executives and bankers, the people said.
None of those visits have previously been reported.
Mr. Staley left the bank in early 2013, and JPMorgan decided to close Epstein’s accounts a few months later. Mr. Staley later became the CEO of Barclays PLC, but left the British bank in late 2021 after U.K. regulators said he provided an incomplete accounting of his relationship with Epstein.
JPMorgan employees continued meeting with Epstein after his accounts were closed about other clients and to discuss introductions he could make to potential clients, according to people familiar with the meetings.
Epstein had ties to ultrarich JPMorgan clients such as Leon Black, the co-founder of private-equity firm Apollo Global Management. Over the years, Mr. Black paid Epstein a total of $148 million for trust- and estate-tax advice, an independent review found.
Mr. Nelson went to Epstein’s townhouse seven times between 2014 to 2017, and visited Epstein’s ranch south of Santa Fe in January 2016, according to the people familiar with the matter.
Managing director Paul Barrett scheduled at least five meetings with Epstein from 2014 to 2017 before he left JPMorgan, according to documents reviewed by the Journal.
Epstein’s 2019 death ended the criminal trial against him.
The lawsuits against JPMorgan are scheduled to go to trial in October.