Days after settling with survivors of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking, JP Morgan is escalating its ongoing legal battle with the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands last year filed a lawsuit against JP Morgan claiming the bank was “indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise” in the Virgin Islands. In response, the bank has argued that the Virgin Islands government was actually “complicit” in Epstein’s criminal activities. And a legal brief filed by JP Morgan on Thursday offers chilling evidence of this.
Said legal brief shows Cecile de Jongh, who served as first lady of the Virgin Islands from 2007 to 2015, actively aided Epstein in carrying out his sex trafficking ring within the U.S. territory. It includes a string of email communications between de Jongh and Epstein as evidence of this. In emails from 2011 (three years after Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution of a minor), de Jongh appears to consult Epstein for his approval on proposed sex offender legislation in the Virgin Islands. The legal brief filed by the bank also shows de Jongh helped Epstein’s victims receive visas and English-language classes.
Further, JP Morgan notes that de Jongh worked for Epstein since at least 2000 (before becoming first lady in 2007) and was on his payroll with an annual salary of more than $100,000 for running his business operations on the islands and helping him maintain positive relationships with Virgin Islands law enforcement. De Jongh also reportedly solicited political donations from Epstein to her husband, former Gov. John Percy de Jongh Jr.
As recently as December 2014, de Jongh wrote in an email to Epstein, “It is important to me that you know that I take this job, my management of your team and our implementation of your requests very seriously and that they be done in the most confidential of ways.”
In 2011, de Jongh emailed an apology to Epstein over a piece of legislation regarding the territory’s monitoring of sex crimes that passed without Epstein’s suggested language changes. In her email, de Jongh offered to craft a “game plan” to help Epstein evade accountability under the law: “[A]ll is not lost and we will figure something out by coming up with a game plan to get around these obstacles,” she wrote. According to JP Morgan, de Jongh’s plan consisted of convincing Virgin Islands senators to “facilitate Epstein’s easy travel to and from” the territory.
De Jongh also appears to have been closely involved in Epstein’s oversight of his victims on the islands, connecting one of them to a local immigration lawyer, and obtaining student visas and special classes at the University of the Virgin Islands for some of the other women, JP Morgan claims. “They are structuring the class around the ladies. Please let me know so that they know what to do or not to do,” de Jongh wrote to Epstein in the summer of 2013, per the court filings. Another email shows de Jongh possibly pointing to her work in covering for Epstein as a reason she should receive a bonus: “In 14 years, we have not had a bad audit and we ensure that you have the best relationships with local regulators and departments.”
A spokesperson for the Virgin Islands has since responded to the Thursday court filing, claiming it “mischaracterized Epstein’s interactions with U.S. Virgin Islands officials and residents in an attempt to distract and shift blame away from its role in facilitating Jeffrey Epstein’s heinous crimes.” The Virgin Islands government has also referred to the court documents as “hyperbolic conspiracy theories” and formally asked Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who’s overseeing the territory’s lawsuit against the bank, to strike the bank’s accusations of hypocrisy as a legitimate defense in court.
The Virgin Islands government has maintained that it’s determined to go to trial with JP Morgan and doesn’t intend to settle with the bank. A former sex trafficking prosecutor told Law and Crime on Thursday that the bank’s latest bombshell court filing implicating de Jongh may be a strategy to get the government to negotiate a possible settlement and “disincentivize” the Virgin Islands from continuing its push to go to trial.
“For two decades, and for long after JPMC exited Epstein as a client, the entity that most directly failed to protect public safety and most actively facilitated and benefited from Epstein’s continued criminal activity was the plaintiff in this case—the USVI government itself,” JP Morgan said in a court filing last month.