On Tuesday, banking giant JPMorgan Chase settled with the U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General for $75 million in a civil case that exposed to the world explosive details surrounding the mechanics of child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s decades-long operation.
While some may consider the settlement a win, according to the Intelligencer, it has once again robbed the public of “culpability.”
“It’s tempting to see this settlement as another example of Epstein’s uncanny ability, even in death, to disappear information about himself,” Kevin T. Dugan writes for the Intelligencer.
According to Dugan, 2006 was a “pivotal year” in the unraveling of Epstein’s empire.
“That was when a federal investigation into him began, his compound in Palm Beach was raided, charges were filed against him for soliciting underage girls for prostitution, and the FBI started its own investigation,” he writes. “But up in New York, executives at JPMorgan Chase were making decisions about Epstein that would prove to have much longer-lasting effects.”
At the time, Epstein had an account with about $32 million and routinely withdrew as much as $70,000 at a time — and had already taken out $750,000 by that October, according to court documents. Despite the charges, the bankers — including asset-management-division CEO Jes Staley and private-bank CEO Mary Erdoes — decided they would keep him as a banking client, though, they would “not proactively solicit new investment business from him.” But even that caveat didn’t hold, and five years later, Epstein was again working with Staley and Erdoes to start a new investment together with Bill Gates’s charitable foundation.
The settlement, which Dugan calls a “surprise,” awards $20 million to charities, $10 million to a victims’ mental health fund, and roughly $20 million to cover the lawyers’ fees.
The lawsuit “revealed so many explosive details about the way that wealth and power worked around Epstein, who ensnared not only some of the most powerful people at JPMorgan Chase but bankers at Goldman Sachs and the former head of the CIA,” Dugan notes.
But the resolution of the suit “is the real beginning of the end into the official inquiries into the cabal of wealthy and powerful people who helped make — and who benefited mightily from — Epstein’s monstrous crimes.”
And it is hardly the first time that a settlement has swapped money for any meaningful justice surrounding Epstein’s evil deeds.
A civil suit against JPMorgan brought by his victims? Settled for $290 million. How about Deutsche Bank, where he banked later on? $75 million. Why did Leon Black pay $158 million to Epstein, who was not a banker or an accountant, for tax and financial advice? The answer to that question cost Black $62.5 million.
“To this day, the only person who has been held criminally responsible for Epstein is Ghislaine Maxwell, who will likely die in prison,” Dugan states. “Even the Justice Department’s own report on how Epstein was able to die in prison wasn’t exactly clarifying.”
None of the high-profile celebrities and politicians who allegedly partook in Epstein’s offerings have been arrested.
The bankers, including Staley, who, according to Dugan, “referred to encounters with ‘Snow White’ and a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ facilitated by Epstein,” are not behind bars, though concerns of possible child trafficking were raised.
“The U.S. Virgin Islands v. JPMorgan Chase was always a civil case, so it would not have sent anyone to prison,” Dugan writes. “But what the settlement is depriving the public of is culpability. It didn’t even include an agreement of liability — in other words, an admission of wrongdoing — though the bank said it ‘deeply regrets any association with this man, and would never have continued to do business with him if it believed he was using the bank in any way to commit his heinous crimes’ — despite evidence showing that the bank’s head of security raised those very issues.”
In other words, it would appear that, if you have enough power and money to throw around, you can make all those pesky details vanish for good by simply cutting a few checks.
Indeed, according to Dugan, last year “Erdoes made $20.5 million in total compensation — about as much as she’d made during each of the past three years.”