U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel M. Smith announced the USVI Department of Justice has reached an historic victim-supporting settlement with JPMorgan Chase. The settlement includes significant commitments by JPMorgan Chase to curtail human trafficking, and payments by JPMorgan Chase to the USVI DOJ totaling $75 million.
The agreement resolves the enforcement action filed by the USVI DOJ, which marked the first time a state attorney general has used the authority provided by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This is also the first enforcement action filed against a bank for facilitating and profiting from human trafficking.
“As part of the settlement, JPMorgan has agreed to implement and maintain meaningful anti-trafficking measures, which will help prevent human trafficking in the future.
This settlement is a historic victory for survivors and for state enforcement, and it should sound the alarm on Wall Street about banks’ responsibilities under the law to detect and prevent human trafficking,” said Attorney General Smith. “Our Department of Justice tirelessly pursued this enforcement action to make it substantially harder for traffickers to finance their crimes in the future, and we are confident this settlement will help achieve that goal. We are proud to have stood alongside the survivors throughout this litigation, and this settlement reflects our continued commitment to them. With this constructive resolution of this groundbreaking litigation, we look forward to helping our community move forward and to building a new relationship with JPMorgan.”
In 2005, police in Palm Beach, Florida, began investigating Epstein after a parent reported that he had sexually abused her 14-year-old daughter. Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty and was convicted in 2008 by a Florida state court of procuring a child for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute.
He served almost thirteen months in custody, but with extensive work release. He was convicted of only these two crimes as part of a controversial plea deal; federal officials had identified thirty-six girls, some as young as 14-years-old, whom Epstein had allegedly sexually abused. Epstein was arrested again on July 6, 2019, on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. He died in his jail cell on August 10, 2019. The medical examiner ruled that his death was a suicide by hanging.
Epstein’s lawyers have disputed the ruling, and there has been significant public skepticism about the true cause of his death, resulting in numerous conspiracy theories. Since Epstein’s death precluded the possibility of pursuing criminal charges against him, a judge dismissed all criminal charges on August 29, 2019. Epstein had a decades-long association with the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, leading to her 2021 conviction on U.S. federal charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy for helping him procure girls, including a 14-year-old, for child sexual abuse and prostitution.
On August 11, 2019, an autopsy was performed. It appeared likely that Epstein had thrown himself violently off the cell’s top bunk, which would explain the damage he suffered, other than strangulation. The preliminary result of the autopsy found that Epstein sustained multiple breaks in his neck bones. Among the bones broken in Epstein’s neck was the hyoid bone. Such breaks of the hyoid bone can occur from those who hang themselves, but they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation.