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New York Times Had To Sue Tregenza Roach To Get Info About Epstein In St. Thomas

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The New York Times Company was forced to sue the U.S. Virgin Islands government in order to get needed documents about one of the late Jeffrey Epstein’s businesses in the territory, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

The fourth-largest newspaper in America sued USVI Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach as Commissioner of Banking and Insurance to get access to information about Epstein’s company “Southern Trust” in St. Thomas.

“The New York Times sued to get the release of corporate documents pertaining to Jeffrey Epstein in the Virgin Islands,” Danielle Rhoades-Ha, the Vice President of Communication for the New York Times, said. The documents were the basis for this story.

The office of Southern Trust, the company Jeffrey Epstein started in the Virgin Islands in 2012. Previously unreported filings show it brought in more than $200 million over the next five years. Photo by Gabriella N. Baez for The New York Times

The NYT article, written by Matthew Goldstein and Steve Eder and published on October 3, paints a picture of Epstein as a man whose personal life might have been in turmoil — while his business life in the territory was wildly successful.

“Jeffrey Epstein’s biggest client had deserted him, his money management firm had lost more than $150 million during the financial crisis, and he was a registered sex offender,”Goldstein and Eder wrote in the N.Y. Times. “But after he started a new company with a wildly speculative business plan in 2012, Mr. Epstein had no problem pulling in cash.”

“His start-up, Southern Trust, reported more than $200 million in revenues over the next five years, according to a review of previously unreported financial statements filed in the Virgin Islands.”

“Despite a name that calls to mind a financial services firm, the fledgling company with a handful of employees said it was developing a DNA data-mining service. Southern Trust was trying to gauge customers’ predisposition to cancer by ‘basically organizing mathematical algorithms,’ Mr. Epstein told Virgin Islands officials as he sought a lucrative tax break in 2012.”

Rhoades-Ha said the New York Times dropped its September suit in the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, when it got the information it needed from Roach.

“Once our reporters received the documents,” she said, “The Times terminated the case.”

It is the second time Roach has been caught up in a lack-of-transparency question since Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. took office this year.

In April, Roach refused to turn over documents to the Federal Reserve Bank about Venezuelans who have banking or financial institution holdings in the territory.

Epstein was a billionaire businessman and convicted sex offender who owned Little Saint James Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands off the East End of St. Thomas.

He committed suicide in a New York City jail cell on August 10.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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