JPMorgan hit back against the US Virgin Islands this week, which is suing the bank over its relationship with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein - accusing the former USVI governor and first lady of accepting a gift in the form of tuition for Skidmore College. Of note, the former USVI governor's wife, Cecile de Jongh, acted as Epstein's office manager.
Cecile de Jongh, wife of then-USVI Governor John de Jongh Jr., sent Epstein an August 2011 email with the subject line “Please Approve,” attaching a $25,000 tuition bill for Skidmore, a private liberal arts college in Saratoga Springs, New York. The email is among dozens of previously sealed documents the bank filed late Wednesday in Manhattan federal court. -Bloomberg
The move is part of an "unclean hands" defense by the bank.
In May the bank accused de Jongh, of acting as his "primary conduit for spreading money and influence throughout the USVI," however the emails revealed in Wednesday's filing provide additional context in terms of the relationship between Epstein and the USVI first family.
The filing also reveals that JPMorgan intends to defend this to the end despite announcing on Monday that it had agreed to settle with a group of Epstein accusers for $290 million.
The USVI, meanwhile, has asked the judge in the case to stop JPMorgan from asserting this "unlclean hands" defense, as they claim it doesn't apply to government actors.
JPMorgan claims that the tuition paid for de Jongh's children boosted her 2009 overall compensation as an office manager to $200,000. The bank claims that in return for the tuition, de Jongh provided Epstein access to the USVI's political elite - who extended tax benefits and allowed him to take part in crafting laws that might affect him.
In one email exchange from May 2011 between Epstein and de Jongh, the two discussed the USVI's plans to update its sex offender registry laws, as it directly impacted the convicted pedophile due to his 2008 conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution.
"Maybe we should distinguish between offenders and predators," Epstein wrote, suggesting that the USVI might revise the law to more narrowly apply to a category of sex offenders he didn't consider himself part of. Epstein also suggested a provision for waivers from the requirements of the revised law, which "should be broader" to avoid affecting his business and his privacy.
It’s not clear how widely the email was shared, though de Jongh’s reply asked if Epstein wanted to wait for other people to respond. She later wrote that the matter “needs to be settled” in a few days because the attorney general needed to submit something by the end of the month.
According to JPMorgan, Epstein wasn’t happy with the law that passed in June 2012, and de Jongh promised she would find ways for him to get around the restrictions. According to the emails released Wednesday night, the two expressed frustration that a USVI politician identified only as “Russell” had betrayed them. -Bloomberg
"I know this was a horrible week and I am really sorry about how things panned out," de Jongh wrote to the disappointed Epstein. "Not being able to take someone at their word is incredibly frustrating," she continued in a likely reference to her husband.
De Jongh also allegedly helped Epstein obtain student visas for young women by arranging their enrollment at the University of the Virgin Islands, according to the report.
"Did the ladies enroll?" she wrote Epstein in June of 2013. "It is not too late for the fall semester? As we discussed, they need to go down and enroll and show the ability to pay."
What's more, emails show USVI officials panicking after Epstein's 2019 arrest for sex trafficking.
"I personally think the questions are opening us up to public scrutiny," wrote USVI official Margarita Benjamin.