Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase speaking with CNBC’s Leslie Picker in Bozeman, MT on Aug. 2nd, 2023.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told CNBC on Wednesday that lawsuits against the giant bank related to its former client, the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, have impacted its brand equity “a little bit.”
“But we banked Jeffrey Epstein and I’m so sorry that we did. I wish we hadn’t,” Dimon told CNBC’s Leslie Picker. “Had we known then what we know today, we obviously wouldn’t have.”
“And yes, we make terrible mistakes sometimes and we apologize for it,” Dimon later said.
JPMorgan in June agreed to settle for $290 million a New York federal court lawsuit by an Epstein accuser alleging that the bank enabled Epstein’s sex trafficking of young women during the years he kept millions of dollars on deposit there, from 1998 to 2013. Other victims of Epstein will share in that settlement, in which the bank did not admit wrongdoing.
The bank is continuing to fight a similar lawsuit in the same court over its relationship with Epstein by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is scheduled to go to trial this fall. JPMorgan has denied any wrongdoing in that case.
The Virgin Islands accuses JPMorgan of retaining Epstein as a client despite multiple red flags being raised internally about him over the years.
Epstein had pleaded guilty in 2008 to a Florida state charge of soliciting sex from a minor, five years before JPMorgan booted him as a client.
Asked Wednesday if JPMorgan had changed the way it vets potential clients, Dimon said, “Yes, because we have to be very careful again, we can’t kick out people based on allegations, but again, yes, I think we can do more, particularly around a whole bunch of things.”
JPMorgan spokeswoman Patricia Wexler, when asked about Dimon’s comments, told CNBC, “Any association with Epstein was a mistake and in hindsight we regret it, but we did not help him commit his heinous crimes.”
We would never have continued to do business with him if we believed he was engaged in an ongoing sex trafficking operation,” Wexler said.
Epstein, 66, killed himself in a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019, a month after he was arrested on child sex trafficking charges.
In May, Republican attorneys general in 19 states wrote Dimon a letter accusing the bank of closing some customers’ accounts “due to their religious or political affiliation.”
JPMorgan has flatly rejected that claim, telling The Wall Street Journal at the time, “We have never and would never exit a client relationship due to their political or religious affiliation.”
Last week, employees of Florida retail health company Mercola Market told the Florida Voice that JPMorgan abruptly terminated their personal and company bank accounts without explaining the move.
“One of the employees believes the account shutdowns were politically motivated and due to their employer’s controversial stance on COVID-19,” the news outlet reported. Dr. Joseph Mercola owns the company.
JPMorgan told Florida Voice last week, “For privacy reasons, we can’t discuss customer relationships, but we don’t close accounts because of political affiliations, and we didn’t do so in this case.”