Jeffrey Epstein used US Virgin Islands First Lady to remain 'unchecked' in sex-trafficking scheme, JP Morgan claims in court filing

side-by-side image of Jeffrey Epstein and one of his two private islands in the Caribbean, Little.
Jeffrey Epstein's main residence in the US Virgin Islands was on Little St. James, an island he owned.Rick Friedman Photography/Corbis via Getty Images; REUTERS/Marco Bello
  • JP Morgan wants to shift blame to the US Virgin Islands over connections to Jeffrey Epstein.

  • A now-former first lady was "Epstein's primary conduit" for local power, JP Morgan says in a new filing.

  • Epstein avoided oversight — even though he was a registered sex offender — in exchange for money, per JP Morgan.

New filings in the messy lawsuit between the US Virgin Islands and JP Morgan Chase over who bears responsibility for Jeffrey Epstein's sex-trafficking operation are dragging former US Virgin Islands First Lady Cecile de Jongh in the spotlight.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Jed Rakoff, who is overseeing the lawsuit, ordered Jeffrey Epstein's estate to produce all emails and other documents referencing de Jongh to JP Morgan, which is defending itself in the lawsuit. On the same day, JP Morgan alleged in its own filings that de Jongh was "Epstein's primary conduit for spreading money and influence throughout the USVI government."

"Unequivocally, a political culture was fostered within the local Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands that allowed Epstein to remain unchecked in exchange for his sponsorship and financial contributions," JP Morgan claims in the filing.

The US Virgin Islands attorney general's office filed the lawsuit against JP Morgan in December, alleging the financial institution "pulled the levers" of Epstein's sex-trafficking operation. Epstein died in a Manhattan jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, and his longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted in 2021 for trafficking girls to him to rape.

According to the US Virgin Islands lawsuit, Epstein's JP Morgan accounts were used to pay off his victims and conceal wrongdoing. The bank ignored "red flag" laws that would have allowed them to stop Epstein earlier, according to the suit.

In its own filings, JP Morgan says the US Virgin Islands should have used its own oversight powers to stop Epstein and that it was "greedy" for seeking more damages after already obtaining more than $100 million in a settlement with Epstein's estate.

Epstein had deep ties to the local Democratic party, JP Morgan claims

Epstein "maintained a quid pro quo relationship with USVI's highest ranking officials" by giving them money and political favors in exchange for millions of dollars in tax incentives, and for them looking the other way when he brought girls to his private island, according to JP Morgan's new filing.

At the center of Epstein's links to government officials, JP Morgan alleges, was de Jongh, who served as first lady when her husband, John de Jongh Jr., was governor of the US Virgin Islands between 2007 and 2015.

Cecile de Jongh didn't immediately respond to a request for comment after Insider reached her representative. Much of the details of her work for Epstein are redacted from the filing.

She had worked for the Southern Trust Company, a corporation Epstein allegedly used for his sex-trafficking enterprise, as well as one of Epstein's philanthropic foundations.

According to the new JP Morgan filing, de Jongh worked for Epstein while also serving as first lady and managed Epstein's corporations "despite her public role and official duties." The political donations she facilitated, according to JP Morgan, "came with strings attached."

According to the filing, Epstein also fostered connections with Kenneth Mapp, who served as governor between 2015 and 2019, as well as Albert Bryan, the current governor, who is scheduled to be deposed for the lawsuit on January 6. Neither Mapp nor a representative for Bryan immediately responded to requests for comment about their alleged relationships with Epstein.

jeffrey epstein island
Jeffrey Epstein's Little St. James island.US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

Epstein raised funds for Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat who serves as a non-voting delegate who has represented the US Virgin Islands in Congress since 2015, and who served as a House manager during former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial. (Plaskett has since said she's donated those funds to non-profits supporting women and children and called Epstein's conduct "despicable.")

In a partially unredacted transcript for a deposition she took in May, Plaskett discussed traveling to Epstein's Manhattan townhouse as late as 2018 — which was more than a decade after his sex offender designation, and about a year before his arrest by federal prosecutors.

JP Morgan alleges that Epstein's powerful connections with the US Virgin Islands' political establishment meant that they effectively ignored his status as a registered sex offender, which followed his 2007 guilty plea for solicitation in Florida.

"In sum, in exchange for Epstein's cash and gifts, USVI made life easy for him," the new filing claims. "The government mitigated any burdens from his sex offender status. And it made sure that no one asked too many questions about his transport and keeping of young girls on his island."

A spokesperson for the US Virgin Islands government said that JP Morgan's new filing is "an obvious attempt to shift blame" from the bank.

"JPMorgan Chase facilitated Jeffrey Epstein's abuse, and should be held accountable for violating the law," the spokesperson said.

JP Morgan has also filed a lawsuit against Jes Staley, a former JP Morgan executive who formed close ties with Epstein, alleging he should be solely responsible for any wrongdoing. On Wednesday, Rakoff allowed the lawsuit against Staley to move forward, rejecting his attempts to dismiss it.

The US Virgin Islands settled its separate sex-trafficking case with Epstein's estate in December, with the estate agreeing to hand over $105 million and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the dead pedophile's island residences. The islands sold for $60 million in May.

Stephen Deckoff, the financier who purchased them, has said he plans to turn them into a destination resort.

Read the original article on Business Insider