Above Photo: USVI Little St James Island, when it was owned by Jeffrey Epstein. Navin75, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
How Powerful Banks Escape Accountability.
Banks operate with impunity and so they act accordingly.
With convicted sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein out of the way and his co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, on ice for 20 years, the mainstream media gets to do its favorite trick; ignoring, burying or otherwise memory-holing stories the ruling class doesn’t like.
Considering the laundry list of prominent men linked to Epstein, no one else has been held to account for what is arguably the largest sex-trafficking case of the decade. There’s been no public trial or proceedings that could reveal evidence of wrongdoing by other people or institutions who made Epstein’s crimes possible.
Ahh, but in walks Denise George, the now former attorney general for the U.S. Virgin Islands where Epstein based his sex-trafficking operation. On December 27, 2022 Denise George, filed a searing lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase Bank in New York’s Southern District court. In the lawsuit , the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands alleges that “JP Morgan knowingly, negligently, and unlawfully provided and pulled the levers through which recruiters and victims were paid and was indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise.” Its lawsuit seeks damages against JP Morgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, for its role in facilitating the human trafficking enterprise helmed by Epstein.
The case against JP Morgan Chase follows Ms. George’s successful sex-trafficking settlement against the Epstein estate and co-defendants. The civil enforcement claims brought under the Virgin Islands’ Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (CICO), is the islands’ version of the RICO Act. The settlement of over $105 Million, will compensate the Virgin Islands for the economic development tax benefits fraudulently obtained by Epstein and his co-defendants to finance his expansive criminal operation. The money will also fund counseling programs for victims of sexual assault, human trafficking, sexual misconduct, and child sexual abuse.
By any standards, Denise George’s achievements, particularly the settlement, demonstrates her commitment to enforcing laws on behalf of the citizens of the Virgin Islands. However, just days after filing suit against JP Morgan Chase, Ms. George was abruptly terminated from her duties by USVI governor, Albert Bryan.
The implications of Bryan’s decision are obvious; It’s poorly timed and appears connected to Ms. George’s investigation into JP Morgan’s connection to Epstein’s crimes.
Bryan, whose office has not responded to requests for an explanation, previously served as chairman of the island’s Economic Development Commission. In that position he granted generous tax exemptions to Epstein’s company . So the question must be asked—would Bryan be embarrassed (to say the least) by the outcome of continued investigations into the Epstein-JP Morgan connection?
Dismissing attorneys to impede investigations points to the corrupt hand of establishment power. What are the forces that might’ve influenced Bryan’s decision to dismiss George? Is his decision possibly coerced? And, do large banks have a history of complicity with criminal operations while receiving protection from powerful political figures?
Large Banks Operate With Impunity
The nation’s largest banks are not held accountable for their criminal behavior. Time and time again powerful banks are let off the hook by only receiving financial penalties with no prison time for the executives involved. In 2022, Wells Fargo, America’s fourth largest bank, was ordered to pay $3.7 billion after years of “widespread mismanagement”. Wells Fargo’s misconduct led to customers’ cars being repossessed and home foreclosures. Although it was the largest fine imposed on a bank by regulators, the penalty amounted to a cost-of-doing business for Wells Fargo.
The starkest example of favoritism for corrupt finance executives was the massive mortgage fraud which devastated the economy in 2008. Instead of holding high-level bankers personally accountable for widespread fraud that caused the financial crash, banks such as JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo as well as non-bank financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, were rescued. They were given taxpayer funded bailouts which provided the bankers with huge bonuses and kept the bad guys in business.
The financial crisis has had long ranging harmful effects on ordinary citizens including a drastic reduction in Black home ownership. In spite of this the bank’s crime spree continues in the post-crash era.
The non-justice treatment afforded to finance industry elites gave rise to ‘Occupy Wall Street’—the 2011 grassroots movement which correctly identified banks and other financial institutions controlled by the one-percent as a major source of America’s problems.
Banks are also a major cause of the vast racial economic inequality in this country. In the book, The White Wall: How Big Finance Bankrupts Black America, author Emily Flitter exposes the normalized anti-Black racist practices that keeps the racial wealth gap as wide as it was during the Jim Crow era. From the longstanding practice of redlining, discriminatory hiring policies limiting Blacks from advancing to high-level positions, to systemic denial of funding to Black business owners and entrepreneurs. Banks have played a key role in undermining generational wealth for African Americans.
Policy favorable to the banking sector in spite of their widespread criminality is the result of a political system that thrives on the legalized bribery of political lobbying. Through the use of high-paid lobbyists and Super PACs, commercial banks pour millions of dollars into the campaigns of both Democrats and Republicans to get the laws they want passed.
And big banks are often repeat offenders receiving no serious punishment for each offense. This is due in part to the lack of official statistics tracking the activities of corporate criminals. The FBI maintains a comprehensive database for street crimes, but there’s no centralized database for corporate crimes. This is yet another example of selective law enforcement and selective justice in America.
Large Banks Have Supported America’s Criminal Imperial Operations
Criminal foreign adventures profitable to banking elites and given the greenlight by U.S. government officials is the partner-in-crime model of plutocracy we see today.
High-level bankers require assurances that the U.S. government will intervene to protect business interests abroad and the U.S. war machine requires financial institutions to support the infrastructure of U.S. colonialism.
In 1915, the National City Bank of New York, the predecessor to today’s Citigroup Inc., actually pressured the federal government to occupy Haiti. The goal for City Bank was to acquire control of the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti. The subsequent 19-year occupation of Haiti is one of several U.S.- European interventions in Haiti, driven by corporate interests, which has resulted in Haiti’s current unrest.
Moreover, the Haitian occupation established the U.S. handbook for illegal interventions. First, deceive the American public by hiding the corporate profit motives driving the intervention, primarily of which is the theft of resources from the target country. Then proceed to inflict death, destruction and long term racialized economic-political instability upon the people of the target country.
Peter James Hudson describes the Caribbean as ground zero for U.S. imperial banking. In the book, Bankers and Empire: How Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean, Hudson painstakingly maps the inner workings of banking, racial capitalism, and imperialism.
The criminal empire uses its banking accomplices and military enforced sanctions to oppress the global south. In 2019 the British government followed America’s efforts at regime change in Venezuela eventually recognizing Juan Guaidó as Venezuelan president. Guaidó, who had never run for presidential office, had declared himself acting president. The justification—attractive only to criminal minds—was enough for the Bank Of England to freeze $2 billion of gold belonging to the Venezuelan state.
Keep in mind, the frozen Venezuelan assets are funds needed to purchase food, medicine, vaccines, medical and other essential goods for the people of Venezuela, particularly during the pandemic.
The criminality of banking executives—old news; their collaboration with the crimes of empire—very old news. High-level banking executives have been a cabal of morally bankrupt white men with access to wealth and the backing of government power.
Where’s Biden’s DOJ?
Wealthy criminals like Epstein generate enormous amounts of financial data, investigating their banking transactions should be a no-brainer. How is it that the attorney general of a tiny island, with a minimal budget, is able to make a case against the multinational JP Morgan Chase?
Why is the U.S. Department of Justice not leading the investigation into Epstein’s banking connections? The enormous criminal history of banks should’ve made them the first place U.S. prosecutors looked for evidence of Epstein’s crimes. Did U.S. prosecutors and investigative agencies such as the FBI turn a blind eye to the obvious connection between Epstein’s human trafficking and his financial footprint? Jeffrey Epstein was a financier. Every bank he did business with, including JP Morgan Chase, should be thoroughly investigated.
The banking connections to Epstein’s human trafficking is also being suppressed by corporate media. The press has avoided any substantial reporting on Ms. George’s complaint against JP Morgan Chase, sticking only to blink and you’ll miss it reports. This is because mainstream news in the U.S. functions as a narrative management operation — it prioritizes narratives favorable to the ruling class while hiding the crimes of those with wealth and political influence.
Denise George is a hero. She did the job she was hired to do — enforcing laws of the Virgin Islands. By holding a powerful bank to account for facilitating Epstein’s predatory operation she is protecting women and young women in particular. Everyone including feminist groups, and the missing-in-action Me Too movement, should be rallying in support of Denise George.
Governor Bryan’s major concern should be to send the message that the Island territories will not be used for illicit purposes. Instead, Bryan’s abrupt firing of Denise George sends the message to prosecutors that powerful corporate criminals, particularly banks, are off limits.
What is the point of having an attorney general if they can be dismissed at will, for no apparent reason, particularly after having filed important lawsuits? Will JP Morgan Chase be allowed to escape accountability? Everyone concerned about truth and justice should pay close attention to the outcome of the Virgin Island’s case against JP Morgan Chase.