On Monday (15 May), the US Virgin Islands' government informed a federal judge in New York that it was unable to locate billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk to deliver a subpoena to him.
A subpoena is a legal order issued by a court that compels an individual or organisation to provide specific documents, records, or testimony. It is typically used in the context of legal proceedings, such as trials or investigations, to gather evidence or compel the appearance of witnesses. Failure to comply with a subpoena can result in penalties or legal consequences.
The subpoena relates to documents in a lawsuit that seeks to hold JPMorgan Chase accountable for businessman Jeffrey Epstein's involvement in sex trafficking. Tesla, Musk’s electric vehicle company, is where it now wants to serve the subpoena instead.
Since they have been unable to provide the documents to Musk or his lawyers since the subpoena was issued on 28 April, lawyers asked judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan in a court filing to permit them to serve the subpoena on Tesla.
They said they had hired a detective agency to look through public records databases for Musk's potential addresses, and to have emailed one of his lawyers but not heard back.
Why has Musk been subpoenaed?
The inability to locate Musk poses a challenge for the US Virgin Islands' government, with hope now resting on obtaining permission from Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan to serve the subpoena on Tesla, Musk's prominent electric vehicle company.
If the court grants permission to serve the subpoena on Tesla, the company would be required to comply with the request and provide the documents and records specified in the subpoena. Failure to comply could lead to legal consequences, such as fines or other penalties.
According to the US Virgin Islands' government, Epstein may have referred or attempted to refer Musk to JPMorgan. It sued JPMorgan last year, saying its investigation had shown that the bank had made it possible for Epstein's recruiters to pay victims, and that this was “indispensable to the operation and concealment of the Epstein trafficking enterprise”.
The subpoena requests documents pertaining to communications between Musk and JPMorgan or Musk and Epstein regarding Epstein or Epstein’s role in Musk’s accounts, transactions or financial management from 1 January 2002 to the present.
Additionally, all records reflecting or regarding Epstein's involvement in human trafficking and his recruitment of young women for commercial sex are sought by the subpoena.
It also seeks any records of communications between Musk, Epstein and JPMorgan regarding accounts, transactions or the relationship at JPMorgan, as well as any fees Musk may have paid to Epstein or JPMorgan.
66-year-old financier Epstein took his own life in August 2019 while awaiting sex trafficking charges in a federal jail in Manhattan. Epstein had pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.
His alleged crimes involved the recruitment and sexual abuse of numerous underage girls at his opulent residences in New York and Palm Beach, Florida, during the early 2000s.
The legal team representing JPMorgan has maintained that while victims deserve justice, any litigation attempting to assign blame to the bank for Epstein's actions is without legal merit. They have argued that such lawsuits are misdirected, targeting the wrong party, and should ultimately be dismissed.