Jeffrey Epstein claimed to have set up meetings with senior UK ministers

Jeffrey Epstein claimed to have brokered meetings between then senior banker Jes Staley and high-ranking members of the UK government, according to an internal investigation by JPMorgan Chase.

A 22-page report by the bank, compiled following the arrest of its former client in 2019 and seen by the Financial Times, details how Epstein offered to connect Staley with UK chancellor at the time Alistair Darling and Peter Mandelson, former business secretary and de facto deputy prime minister.

In January 2010, just months after he was released from jail having served a sentence for sex crimes, Epstein wrote to Staley: “I’ve set up you and peter to meet in davos with darling,” a reference to the World Economic Forum that was taking place in Switzerland.

A few days later, Staley wrote to Epstein that he saw “Peter last night. Darling in 20 minutes. Will talk again with Peter this AM.”

Darling said he had no recollection of meeting Staley, then a senior executive at JPMorgan, and did not have any dealings with Epstein. “Why would I?” he asked.

An ensuing exchange recounted in the report suggests that Staley was interested in the pending sale of the non-North American units of Sempra Commodities by Royal Bank of Scotland, which was forced to divest the unit following a UK government bailout. Months later, JPMorgan bought the business for $1.7bn.

Darling said that any meeting on government business would have been attended by civil servants and that the Treasury was not involved in the running of RBS.

A person close to Mandelson said he met Staley at Davos to discuss the banking crisis but that Epstein “certainly” did not arrange the meeting.

The report suggests Epstein and Mandelson spoke and met “on a number of occasions”.

According to the report, the company found an email from Epstein to Staley saying that “peter” was staying at “71st” over the weekend in June 2009. Epstein owned a flat in East 71st Street, Manhattan. It also quoted Epstein emailing Staley in January 2011 telling him “peter in paris with me”. Epstein owned a lavish flat in the French capital.

A spokesman for the Labour peer said: “Lord Mandelson very much regrets ever having been introduced to Epstein. This connection has been a matter of public record for some time. He never had any kind of professional or business relationship with Epstein in any form.”

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Darling or Mandelson, but the report illustrates how Epstein sought to tout his political connections to wield influence. 

Several other exchanges point to a friendly relationship between Epstein, Staley and Britain’s Prince Andrew. In 2009, according to the report, Epstein emailed Staley: “Ask Andrew about [the] island, tell him about your boat plans”, an apparent reference to Little St James, Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.

In 2010, Epstein forwarded an email from Prince Andrew to Staley “with an inquiry the Prince received” from a company “looking for a $200mn working capital line”.

“Since the company is based in the US, Prince Andrew appeared to suggest Epstein connect them with a US bank,” JPMorgan’s investigation concluded.

A representative for Prince Andrew and lawyers for Staley did not respond to a request for comment.

Epstein died by suicide in prison while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges in 2019.

The decision by JPMorgan to retain Epstein as a client from 1998 to 2013 prompted the filing of two bombshell lawsuits late last year, one of which, brought by an alleged Epstein victim, was settled by the bank for $290mn last week.

The bank still faces a separate civil claim from the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein’s home on Little St James was based. The territory accuses JPMorgan of profiting from human trafficking by ignoring numerous internal red flags about Epstein.

“Jeffrey Epstein connected JPMorgan Chase’s executives with some of the world’s most high-profile and wealthy individuals,” said a spokesperson for the USVI attorney-general.

They added: “The USVI’s complaint alleges that, in return for bringing valuable new clients into the bank, JPMorgan Chase . . . ignored the evidence of Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes and traded victims’ public safety for its own profits.”

JPMorgan has in turn sued Staley, who was for a period Epstein’s personal banker at the US lender, and went on to lead Barclays in the UK before resigning after UK regulators concluded that he had mischaracterised his relationship with the disgraced financier.

JPMorgan claims that Staley, who has been accused by an unnamed Epstein victim of participating in sex crimes, withheld information about the disgraced financier from the bank. Staley has called the allegations “slanderous” and “baseless”.

The internal JPMorgan report underlines how close Staley was to Epstein, with the two discussing Staley’s career progression, “beautiful women” and the use of luxury boats and helicopters. It also found that Staley wrote to Epstein while he was in prison. And it contains excerpts of exchanges that suggest that Epstein was trying to assist Staley’s daughter in being accepted into Columbia university in New York.

Some of the findings in the report were earlier published by the Wall Street Journal.

JPMorgan declined to comment on the report.

In response to the agreement reached with Epstein victims last week, the bank said: “We all now understand that Epstein’s behaviour was monstrous, and we believe this settlement is in the best interest of all parties, especially the survivors, who suffered unimaginable abuse at the hands of this man. 

“Any association with him was a mistake, and we regret it,” it added.

Additional reporting by William Wallis in London


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