JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank are being sued by the lawyer who led action against Prince Andrew over claims that they enabled the sexual abuse of late paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Class action lawsuits filed in New York by David Boies on behalf of Epstein’s alleged victims claim that the banking giants turned a blind eye in order to “churn profits”.
They single out Jes Staley, who handled JP Morgan's relationship with Epstein and later became chief executive of Barclays, claiming that he protected the paedophile from scrutiny.
The suits claim that the banks “knowingly benefited and received things of value for assisting, supporting, facilitating, and otherwise providing the most critical service for the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking organisation”.
The anonymous claimants are seeking unspecified damages and are being represented by Mr Boies, the lawyer who acted for Virginia Giuffre in her case against Prince Andrew that ended with a settlement.
JP Morgan, where Epstein was previously a key client, is accused of financially benefiting from participating in the alleged sex trafficking by providing financial support to Epstein from 1998 to August 2013.
Deutsche Bank is accused of knowing that it would earn millions of dollars from its relationship with Epstein.
The allegations will renew focus on the Epstein case and the high profile financiers who were forced to resign because of their ties with him, including Mr Staley and Leon Black of Apollo.
The accusations against JP Morgan revolve heavily around the close relationship between Mr Staley and Epstein.
The lawsuit alleges that “Staley made sure Epstein and his illegal sexual abuse organization was absolutely protected by the bank”.
It also alleges that New York banking regulators reviewed Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Epstein and found that “although the bank properly classified Epstein as high-risk, the bank failed to scrutinize the activity in the accounts for the kinds of activity that were obviously implicated by Epstein’s past”.
Mr Staley has said that he knew Mr Epstein since 2000 when he was head of JPMorgan’s private bank and was told to strike up a professional relationship with the financial adviser.
A regulatory investigation into their ties led to Mr Staley's resignation from Barclays, although he disputes any suggestion of wrongdoing. Mr Staley had no involvement with Epstein while working at the British bank.
Bradley Edwards, another lawyer representing the claimants from Edwards Pottinger, said: “Epstein and his co-conspirators could not have been victimised without assistance from wealthy individuals and financial institutions. We will not stop fighting for the survivors until everyone is held responsible.”
A source close to JP Morgan said the bank ended its relationship with Epstein “long before his ongoing misconduct became known. Since then, it has cooperated with investigations into Epstein and others”.
A spokesman for Deutsche Bank said: “We believe this claim lacks merit and will present our arguments in court.”
JP Morgan and a lawyer representing Mr Staley both declined to comment. None of the allegations made against Mr Staley in the lawsuit have been publicly proven.