Deutsche Bank has reached a settlement of $75 million in a lawsuit brought by victims of Jeffrey Epstein, who accused the bank of failing to detect evidence of sex trafficking by the late financier. The lawsuit, filed by a woman known as Jane Doe, alleged that the bank knowingly profited from Epstein’s illegal activities and prioritized financial gain over compliance with the law. The settlement is believed to be the largest ever with a bank in the United States related to sex trafficking.
The law firms representing the victims, Edwards Pottinger and Boies Schiller Flexner, hailed the settlement as a significant milestone after a decade-long investigation into Deutsche Bank’s role in facilitating Epstein’s trafficking organization. While Deutsche Bank did not comment on the settlement, it referred to a statement from 2020 acknowledging its mistake in accepting Epstein as a client. The bank’s global head of media relations, Frank Hartmann, highlighted the significant investments the bank has made to strengthen controls, processes, and training in combating financial crimes, amounting to over €4 billion ($4.3 billion).
Deutsche Bank had previously joined JPMorgan Chase in disputing the allegations and fighting the lawsuit. However, the settlement indicates a shift in the bank’s position. Epstein, who was awaiting criminal charges, died by suicide in prison.
In late 2020, Deutsche Bank disclosed that it had provided “routine banking services” to Epstein from 2013 to 2018, but denied being part of Epstein’s criminal sex trafficking ring. The settlement reflects an acknowledgment of the bank’s oversight in detecting Epstein’s illicit activities and serves as a significant development in the ongoing legal battles surrounding Epstein’s crimes.
The settlement with Deutsche Bank may have implications for JPMorgan Chase, which also faces a lawsuit over its connections to Epstein. The outcome of the Deutsche Bank case could set a precedent for holding financial institutions accountable for their involvement with clients engaged in illegal activities.
Epstein’s case has prompted increased scrutiny of financial institutions’ compliance measures and their responsibility to identify and report suspicious activities related to human trafficking. The settlement highlights the importance of robust anti-money laundering controls and ethical practices in the banking industry to prevent financial institutions from inadvertently facilitating criminal behavior.
As the legal proceedings unfold, the repercussions of the Epstein scandal continue to reverberate throughout the financial sector, underscoring the need for stringent due diligence, heightened awareness, and increased efforts to combat human trafficking and exploitation.