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Deutsche Bank agrees to pay $75 million to settle a lawsuit by Epstein accusers

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Deutsche Bank has agreed to pay $75 million to settle a proposed class action lawsuit that accuses the German banking giant of facilitating sex trafficking by Jeffrey Epstein. The disgraced financier died by suicide while in federal custody awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in 2019. Dozens of Epstein accusers are expected to get payouts. For more on this, we're joined by Wall Street Journal enterprise reporter Khadeeja Safdar. Hi.

KHADEEJA SAFDAR: Hi. Thanks for having me.

FADEL: Thank you for being here. So what did this lawsuit - it was filed last year in New York - accuse Deutsche Bank of doing?

SAFDAR: The lawsuit essentially accused Deutsche Bank of enabling Epstein to recruit and groom hundreds of underage girls and young women by allowing them to use the bank to pay the victims and essentially turning a blind eye when he was paying victims in cash.

FADEL: What's Deutsche Bank saying about this?

SAFDAR: Our understanding is the bank did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The bank declined to comment on the terms of the settlement, but emphasized that they have invested more than 4 billion euros to bolster their controls and increase their size of their workforce dedicated to fighting financial crime. And they made the point that they've made considerable progress in recent years to remedy some of the past issues that they've had.

FADEL: Now, Epstein accusers, a lot of them have said they did never get justice, right? He died before going to trial. How are they reacting to the proposed settlement right now?

SAFDAR: I'm not sure yet. We actually just broke this news last night, so I haven't gotten a chance to see what the reaction is. So I guess we'll just find out more today and in the weeks ahead.

FADEL: And how much money are accusers expected to get?

SAFDAR: So eligible accusers will receive $75,000 as a minimum. And then depending on the circumstances, they can get a payment of upwards of 5 million.

FADEL: Now, this isn't the only lawsuit that's targeting banks used by Epstein, right?

SAFDAR: You're right. It isn't. The same lawyers - David Boies and Brad Edwards - have also sued JPMorgan. And then the U.S. Virgin Islands filed a similar suit against the bank for facilitating Epstein's sex trafficking ring.

FADEL: Khadeeja Safdar of The Wall Street Journal, thanks for sharing your reporting with us. And we'll continue to watch this.

SAFDAR: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.