The head of JPMorgan Chase said that he had never met disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and never even heard of him until Epstein’s 2019 arrest, and that he wasn’t aware of the bank’s internal investigation of its relationship with Epstein, who kept much of his fortune at the bank for 15 years.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was deposed last week by lawyers for plaintiffs suing the bank over its alleged role in enabling Epstein’s sex trafficking, as well as a lawyer for a former Chase executive whom the nation’s largest bank blames for prolonging its ties to Epstein. Epstein, who pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution in 2008, died by suicide in jail in 2019 after being rearrested and charged with trafficking.
During the deposition, Dimon said he didn’t “recall knowing anything about Jeffrey Epstein until the stories broke sometime in 2019,” adding he was “surprised that I didn’t even, had never even heard of the guy, pretty much, and how involved he was with so many people,” according to the transcript.
When a lawyer asked if he had ever heard “the name Jeffrey Epstein” prior to his 2019 arrest, Dimon responded, “Not that I recall.”
Chase has been sued by the U.S. Virgin Islands and a victim of Epstein’s identified as “Jane Doe 1” over its links with Epstein, who kept money at the bank from 1998 to 2013. The financial institution has denied liability.
“JPMorgan’s banking relationship with Epstein was known at the highest levels of the bank,” the U.S. Virgin Islands alleged in its complaint, referring to an August 2008 internal email that states, “I would count Epstein’s assets as a probable outflow for '08 ($120mm or so?) as I can’t imagine it will stay (pending Dimon review).”
But according to the transcript Dimon testified that he was not informed by anyone at the bank that Epstein had entered a guilty plea to soliciting a minor in Florida in 2008. Dimon said he also wasn’t aware that in 2008 the bank reviewed whether Epstein should remain a JPMorgan Chase customer due to his plea.
At one point, Dimon argued that the bank’s former general counsel, Steve Cutler, was the “ultimate decider” in keeping Epstein as a client and “had the ability to override” other executives’ decisions at the bank. He said that Cutler “had the ultimate authority to kick him out if he thought it had gone that far.”
Cutler joined JPMorgan Chase in 2007 and served as the general counsel for nine years. As general counsel, he was head of the company’s legal and compliance activities worldwide and reported to Dimon.
In 2011, Cutler sent an email about Epstein to Mary Erdoes, now head of asset and wealth management at JPMorgan Chase, and Jes Staley, then head of JPMorgan Chase’s private bank, which was dedicated to wealthy clients like Epstein.
Cutler said Epstein was “not an honorable person in any way” and “he should not be a client,” the transcript showed. An attorney for the Virgin Islands read the email to Dimon during his questioning.
Dimon responded that he wasn’t “aware at the time” of the email.
Cutler “testified under oath that Jes Staley and Mary Erdoes made the decision to retain Epstein as a customer of the bank,” the Virgin Islands’ attorney told Dimon, the transcript showed.
The same attorney also asked Dimon if “as CEO of private bank or asset and wealth management, Mary Erdoes could have decided to terminate Jeffrey Epstein as a customer, as a client of JPMorgan, is that right?” according to the transcript.
Dimon responded, “I generally would say that’s true, yes.”
Dimon said that he trusted and respected Cutler and Erdoes, and that he thought “they were both trying to do the right thing.”
“Had the firm believed he was engaged in an ongoing sex trafficking operation, Epstein would not have been retained as client,” a JPMorgan Chase spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday night. “In hindsight, we regret he was ever a client.”
Cutler did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment. Via a Chase spokesperson, Erdoes declined to comment.
The bank sued Staley in March, saying he repeatedly “thwarted” its efforts to cut ties with Epstein during his tenure at the bank. In May, a federal judge denied Staley’s motion to dismiss the complaint filed by the bank.
During Dimon’s deposition, he denied repeatedly that he had spoken to Staley about Epstein. David Boies, a lawyer for Jane Doe, asked Dimon about a 2010 message to Epstein from an assistant asking about food preferences for an evening appointment with “Jes and Jamie,” the transcript showed.
“I have never had an appointment with Jeff Epstein,” Dimon said. “I’ve never met Jeff Epstein. I never knew Jeff Epstein. I never went to Jeff Epstein’s house. I never had a meal with Jeff Epstein.”
Dimon did testify that there was “a chance” Staley knew about Epstein’s misconduct.
Staley worked at JPMorgan Chase for over 30 years, leaving to work for Barclays. In 2021 he stepped down as Barclays’ CEO after a probe into his relationship with Epstein. Staley has previously expressed regret for his affiliation with Epstein.