(Bloomberg) -- Former Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley has been out of sight for more than a year and a half as the revelations about his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein piled up.
Since Staley left the top job at Barclays in November 2021, a cache of emails revealed what Staley himself called a “profound” friendship with the convicted sex offender. A pair of lawsuits allege he witnessed an assault on a young woman and may even have participated in a sex-trafficking ring run by Epstein.
But at a New York law office this weekend, the 66-year-old Staley is scheduled to give his version of events for the first time. His lawyers have denied the allegations, saying he knew nothing of Epstein’s crimes.
The former banking executive is scheduled to face two days of questioning this weekend under oath from lawyers for JPMorgan Chase & Co., the US Virgin Islands and an anonymous woman who claims that JPMorgan financially benefitted from Epstein’s abuse. The suits say Staley knew about Epstein’s misconduct while he was head of JPMorgan’s private banking unit.
“It is very possible for him to be legally right and morally wrong,” said Carliss Chatman, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. “The hard thing about depositions is you could be telling the truth and have a strong legal argument but in a case so public, and dealing with issues as a sensitive as this, it doesn’t bode well in the court of public opinion.”
Spokespeople for JPMorgan, the US Virgin Islands and Jane Doe declined to comment. Staley’s attorney in London declined to comment while his lawyer in New York didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Staley will also likely face questions about the role he played in JPMorgan retaining Epstein as a client despite growing publicity about criminal investigations into the financier’s conduct. The pair met dozens of times at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse and Staley traveled to Epstein’s private estate in the US Virgin Islands when he was a client at JPMorgan, documents released through public records requests and the lawsuits showed.
The bank alleges Staley stood up for Epstein when other executives were debating whether to keep him as a client. Lawyers will likely ask Staley if his former boss at JPMorgan, Jamie Dimon, was involved in these discussions — Dimon denies he was — and why, after the bank’s general counsel suggested in 2011 that Epstein should not be someone they do business with, the relationship continued for another two years.
It comes just weeks after Dimon sat for a deposition and took the opportunity to swipe at Staley, saying he wasn’t CEO material.
While Staley isn’t a defendant in the JPMorgan suit, the crux of the young woman’s case is that JPMorgan turned a blind eye to signs Epstein, a major client, was trafficking women. The woman in the lawsuit says the bank’s continuing relationship with Epstein was only possible because Staley vouched for his friend.
Staley, who worked at JPMorgan for more than 30 years, had argued in court filings that he had no decision-making authority over Epstein’s accounts. He accused JPMorgan of using him as “a public relations shield.”
In the spring, JPMorgan turned against Staley, saying he should be held responsible for any damages it may be ordered to pay.
The bank cut ties with Epstein in 2013 after Staley, who looked after Epstein as a client, left JPMorgan and joined hedge fund Blue Mountain Capital. Staley became CEO of Barclays in 2015, but stepped down in 2021 over his relationship with Epstein. For its part, Barclays is also facing scrutiny for allowing Staley to depart on good terms.
The cases are USVI v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, 22-cv-10904, and Jane Doe 1 v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, 22-cv-10019, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
--With assistance from Harry Wilson.
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