By Tom Hals
WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) -The U.S. Virgin Islands has subpoenaed Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk for documents in its lawsuit accusing JPMorgan Chase & Co of helping enable sexual abuses by late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The subpoena, issued on April 28, came to light on Monday in a request by the Virgin Islands to serve Musk by alternative means because it had been unable to locate and serve him.
The U.S. territory did not seek to question Musk under oath, and its effort to subpoena him does not implicate him in any wrongdoing.
According to the Monday court filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Musk, one of the richest people in the world, may have been referred to JPMorgan by Epstein. The Virgin Islands did not provide further explanation for its interest in obtaining documents from Musk.
In a tweet late on Monday, Musk said that the notion that he would listen to financial advice from Epstein was absurd.
Referring to Epstein, he said: “That cretin never advised me on anything whatsoever.”
Epstein died by suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
The U.S. Virgin Islands accuses JPMorgan of missing red flags about Epstein’s abuse of women on Little St. James, a private island he owned there.
The bank has denied knowledge of Epstein’s crimes.
In the subpoena, the Virgin Islands demanded any documents Musk has about Epstein’s involvement in human trafficking and his procurement of girls or women for commercial sex.
Additionally, the subpoena sought any communications between the entrepreneur and JPMorgan about Epstein as well as between Musk and Epstein. Documents regarding fees paid by Musk to Epstein or JPMorgan also fall under the subpoena.
HISTORY WITH BANK
The extent of any relationship between Musk and Epstein was unclear. Musk and Tesla vehemently denied speculation in 2019 that Epstein was advising Musk after the Tesla chief ran into trouble with regulators for saying he had lined up the funding to take Tesla private, the New York Times reported.
“It is incorrect to say that Epstein ever advised Elon on anything,” a spokeswoman for Musk told the New York Times at the time.
Musk is the second tech entrepreneur touched by the Virgin Islands litigation. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said earlier this month the territory may serve legal papers on Larry Page, although his ruling did not specify the information sought from the co-founder of Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc.
In a Tesla shareholder lawsuit, Musk testified in January that JPMorgan used to have all of Tesla’s commercial banking business, but the relationship soured after the bank did not support Tesla’s automotive leasing line.
That trial stemmed from Tesla shareholder claims that a 2018 tweet by Musk stating he had “funding secured” to take the carmaker private had misled investors and caused them billions of dollars in damages. The jury found Musk was not liable.
In 2021, JPMorgan sued Tesla for $162 million over the “funding secured” tweet, alleging it caused the repricing of Tesla stock warrants. Tesla countersued the bank last year, accusing it of seeking a windfall.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Shivani Tanna in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman)