JPMorgan $290 million settlement with Epstein accusers wins preliminary approval

NEW YORK, June 26 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday granted preliminary approval to JPMorgan Chase’s (JPM.N) $290 million settlement with women who said Jeffrey Epstein abused them, and that the largest U.S. bank turned a blind eye to the late financier’s sex trafficking.

The approval was issued by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff at a hearing in Manhattan federal court.

“This is a really fine settlement,” Rakoff said.

He said the accord and a similar $75 million agreement with Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) he approved earlier this month were “very large settlements” that would compensate Epstein’s victims though not make up for abuses they suffered.

Epstein had been a JPMorgan client from 1998 through 2013, when the bank terminated his accounts.

Victims led by a former ballet dancer known as Jane Doe 1 said JPMorgan missed red flags of Epstein’s abuses, and stayed in touch with him long after his official departure.

Lawyers for the victims said last week that the proposed all-cash settlement was “fair, adequate, reasonable” given the risks of further litigation and JPMorgan’s denying involvement in Epstein’s sex trafficking.

JPMorgan in a statement this month said any association it had with Epstein “was a mistake and we regret it.”

Epstein remained a JPMorgan client for five years after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to a Florida prostitution charge and registered as a sex offender.

At Monday’s hearing, Rakoff asked Jane Doe 1’s lawyer, David Boies, why there was no minimum distribution for each victim, noting that the Deutsche Bank settlement, which Boies also negotiated, guaranteed each at least $75,000.

Boies said many victims in the Deutsche Bank case were from Russia or Eastern Europe and difficult to contact, making the guaranteed minimum an incentive to come forward. He said that was not needed in the JPMorgan case.

Rakoff appointed Simone Lelchuk, a lawyer who specializes in administering settlements, to consider individual claims and determine payouts in the JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank cases.

JPMorgan is also facing a lawsuit over Epstein by the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the financier owned two neighboring islands. That case is currently scheduled to go on trial on Oct. 23.

Epstein died at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. New York City’s medical examiner called the death a suicide.

Reporting by Luc Cohen and Jonathan Stempel in New York
Editing by Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Luc Cohen

Thomson Reuters

Reports on the New York federal courts. Previously worked as a correspondent in Venezuela and Argentina.

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