Court fight over Jeffrey Epstein’s fortune stalls
Miami: US Virgin Islands Attorney-General Denise Rogers has declared in court filings that she is at an impasse with the estate of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and asked that a Superior Court judge intervene and end the protection of the late sex offender's associates.
"We do not believe any further progress can be made without the court's intervention," Rogers wrote in a status update filed on Tuesday, local time, that detailed what she felt was deliberate foot-dragging by the Epstein estate on creation of a victims' compensation fund and making witnesses available to local investigators.
Rogers earlier this year brought a civil enforcement action against the Epstein estate, later adding and labelling as co-conspirators two longtime Epstein lawyers – Richard Kahn and Darren Indyke – who in his will updated shortly before his jail cell death by apparent suicide last August 10 were named executors of the estate. The attorney general also filed liens against Epstein estate assets, making it difficult for the estate to pay employees and bills and to sell assets that could ostensibly be used to compensate Epstein's victims.
Jeffrey Epstein’s home sits on the island of Little St James in the US Virgin Islands. It was one of many homes owned by the hedge fund manager.Credit:Miami Herald
For the past month, the Epstein estate and the Attorney-General have been negotiating a deal to have the liens lifted in exchange for trade-offs. These included: the appointment of Marci Hamilton, a noted advocate for victims of child sex-abuse, to the administration of the compensation fund; the setting aside of $US50 million ($81 million) for victims who might opt out of the voluntary compensation fund to pursue separate litigation; and a pledge that no victim would have to release claims against a third party in exchange for receiving compensation.
In documents filed in support of her motion, George included emails from lawyers for the estate that insist victims forfeit their right to sue others connected to the estate – including property managers, pilots, household servants, drivers and recruiters of underage girls – as a condition of receiving a piece of Epstein's fortune.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell with Donald Trump and his future wife Melania Knauss at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida in 2000.Credit:Getty Images
The parties also differ on whether compensated victims must relinquish the right to sue outside third parties – friends and associates of the multimillionaire. The estate appeared to be moving away from a demand that victims sign a confidentiality agreement as a prerequisite to receiving any funds.
Among third parties alleged to have participated in sexual misconduct is Great Britain's Prince Andrew, whose ties with Epstein date to the 1990s. He has denied any inappropriate behaviour but was relieved of royal duties last November after a disastrous television interview in which he showed no empathy for the victims and offered no explanation for why he was photographed with a woman who said she was forced by Epstein to have sex with the prince three times.
Intervention by the Superior Court is needed, George argued, because the estate has not negotiated in good faith.
"The estate complains of mounting litigation costs but has prolonged discussions with the government over more than four weeks," she wrote.
A yellow school bus with a message from US lawyer Gloria Allred for Prince Andrew drives towards Buckingham Palace in London in February.Credit:AP
It's unclear how quickly the court will move on the request for intervention.
In recent weeks, the settlement of the Epstein estate has been hit by two surprise events. First, longtime Epstein associate and former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, who hasn’t been seen publicly since last summer, filed a claim against the estate asking that it continue paying her legal bills as Epstein had done before his death and that it cover the costs of her maintaining a lifestyle-in-hiding because of threats against her life. Around the same time, an anonymous employee filed a claim saying she too had been a victim and seeking compensation.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre tells the BBC’s Panorama program last December she was a trafficking victim of Jeffrey Epstein’s and was made to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17.Credit:BBC Panorama
And in a troubling new development, one of the most visible Epstein accusers, Virginia Giuffre, who was Virginia Roberts at the time of the abuse, tweeted a photo of herself on Monday at an Australian hospital, where she had checked in with symptoms of coronavirus.
"I'm so scared right now, having trouble breathing, fever & cough. Getting tested for COVID-19 praying it's not positive," she tweeted.
She later took a swipe at the Queensland health system, tweeting she had been sent home even though her test results were not back yet.
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