The U.S. Virgin Islands issued subpoenas this week to Sergey Brin, Thomas Pritzker, Mortimer Zuckerman and Michael Ovitz to gather information for its civil lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase & Co. over the bank’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, according to people familiar with the matter.
The subpoenas from the U.S. territory’s attorney general seek any communications and documents related to the bank and Epstein, the people said.
The four men are some of the wealthiest people in the U.S., and it couldn’t be determined why they were being asked for the communications and documents. In civil cases, lawyers can use subpoenas during the discovery process to get information from people who aren’t a party to a lawsuit but could provide evidence related to the case.
The U.S. Virgin Islands sued JPMorgan late last year in a Manhattan federal court, saying the bank facilitated Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking and abuse by allowing the late financier to remain a client and helping him send money to his victims. The civil lawsuit alleges that JPMorgan received referrals of high-value business opportunities from Epstein and turned a blind eye to his activities. The bank has said it didn’t know about Epstein’s alleged crimes and can’t be held liable.
Mr. Brin is a co-founder of Google and a board member of parent Alphabet Inc. Mr. Pritzker is executive chairman of Hyatt Hotels Corp. Mr. Zuckerman is a real-estate billionaire and owner of U.S. News & World Report. Mr. Ovitz is a venture capitalist and former talent agent for Hollywood stars.
The four men couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for U.S. News & World Report declined to comment. Spokespeople for Google and Hyatt didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chairman and chief executive, is expected to be questioned as part of the case after the two sides reached an agreement for him to be deposed, the Journal reported earlier this week.
Epstein, who had a residence in the U.S. Virgin Islands, banked with JPMorgan for a number of years until it cut ties with the convicted sex offender in 2013. Epstein died in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.
Lawyers have questioned several JPMorgan employees so far in this case and another filed by an unnamed woman who accused Epstein of sexual abuse. The cases are running together in Manhattan federal court.
JPMorgan has sought to have the lawsuits dismissed. The bank has denied that it aided Epstein and has sought to blame any relationship on former executive Jes Staley, whom the bank has sued. Mr. Staley has maintained he was friendly with Epstein but never knew about his alleged crimes.
—David Benoit contributed to this article.
Google founder, former Disney exec to get subpoenas in JPMorgan Epstein lawsuit
Google founder Sergey Brin, former Disney executive Michael Ovitz, Hyatt Hotels executive chairman Thomas Pritzker and a fourth billionaire, real estate investor Mort Zuckerman, will be subpoenaed in a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase by the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands related to sex trafficking by Jeffrey Epstein.
The subpoenas were first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal. A source familiar with the matter confirmed them to CNBC.
The subpoenas demand communications and documents related to the bank and Epstein, The Journal noted.
News of the subpoenas comes three days after it was reported that JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon will answer questions under oath in the lawsuit, which alleges that the bank ignored warning signs about Epstein for years and continued retaining him as a customer.
Last week, the Virgin Islands in a press release noted that it “alleges JPMorgan Chase could have prevented harm and trauma faced by the survivors of Jeffrey Epstein’s heinous abuse.”
“But instead the bank chose to look the other way on these legal matters while continuing to use their banking relationship to grow their business with new clients introduced by Epstein,” the release said.
On March 20, Judge Jed Rakoff ruled the suit against the bank, as well as a similar one by women who say Epstein trafficked them, can proceed toward trial.
The plaintiffs claim that JPMorgan knowingly benefited from participating in Epstein’s trafficking scheme, which transported women to his residence in the Virgin Islands so that he could sexually abuse them.
JPMorgan has denied allegations in the suits which are pending in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
The bank earlier this month sued former JPMorgan investment banking chief Jes Staley, claiming he is responsible for the suits related to Epstein.
The bank seeks to claw back more than $80 million that it paid Staley. He quit as CEO of Barclays in 2021 after a probe by United Kingdom financial regulators over his ties with Epstein.
A lawyer for the Virgin Islands earlier this month said in court that Dimon knew in 2008 that Epstein was a sex trafficker. That was the year that Epstein first was hit with sex crime charges in state court in Florida.
“If Staley is a rogue employee, why isn’t Jamie Dimon?” the attorney, Mimi Liu said at the hearing,
“Staley knew, Dimon knew, JPMorgan Chase knew” about Epstein’s criminal conduct, Liu said.
A JPMorgan lawyer said at the time that the bank disputed those claims, “in particular the point about Jamie Dimon having any specific knowledge.” A bank spokeswoman has said, “Jamie Dimon has no recollection of reviewing the Epstein accounts.”
JPMorgan only ended its customer relationship with Epstein in 2013.
Epstein, a former friend of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew, was arrested on federal child sex trafficking charges in July 2019. He reportedly killed himself a month later in a Manhattan jail cell after being denied bail.