AG Denise George Files Emergency Motion To Keep Epstein Estate From Liquidating Assets
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A fund set up to provide money to dozens of women who said they were abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein when they were as young as 14 has abruptly suspended payouts, saying today that it has temporarily run out of money.
“My office’s worst fears have been realized as we learned the Epstein Estate will not make its currently-owed payment to the fund it claimed to have set up to compensate sexual abuse survivors and victims of Jeffrey Epstein,” V.I. Attorney General Denise George said. “The Estate has found its way to pay for lawyers, landscaping, and helicopter fees, but not the brave women who have stepped forward to participate in the compensation fund. It is, unconscionably, another promise made and broken by Epstein and now, his Estate.”
The announcement by the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program came through a release that blamed the suspension on uncertainty about the liquidity of estate assets needed to finance payouts.
Officials said the fund would have up to $630 million when it started its operations last June. But the shutdown came after only $50 million had been paid out, according to a release put out by the fund, which was established with the approval of a judge in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“The Attorney General’s Office has consistently and promptly released funds from its criminal activity liens to support the operations and awards of the fund,” George said. “It was unaware of this default until, after repeated requests by the victim program Administrator, the Estate yesterday claimed that it could not make its agreed-to payment and did not know when it could make a payment.”
Officials for the Epstein fund said payments will not resume before March 25, the deadline to file claims. The deadline to register for the program is Monday.
According to the release, the program’s 150 claims to date have far exceeded expectations; when the fund began, the program said there was expected to be over 70 claims.
“The Estate breached its agreement, entered into with the Government of the Virgin Islands and counsel for victims, and approved by the Probate Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” AG George said. “This morning, my office filed an emergency motion with the Probate Court requesting it also suspend all payments and sales of assets by the Co-Executors so that steps can be taken to preserve and protect the Estate’s assets and prevent an event like this from recurring.”
Jordy Feldman, the fund’s administrator, said the suspension of payouts was necessary to protect those who have not yet resolved their claims.
“Issuing a compensation offer that cannot be timely and fully funded and paid, consistent with the way the Program has operated to date, would compromise claimants’ interests and the guiding principles of the Program,” Feldman said.
The fund provides an alternative to pursuing claims through the courts. Working with Feldman is Kenneth Feinberg, a well-known mediator who oversaw compensation funds for victims of the September 11 attacks and of clergy sex abuse within New York’s Roman Catholic archdiocese.
It was established after Epstein, 66, killed himself at a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019 while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges that alleged he abuse women and girls under the age 18 at his Florida estate and his Manhattan mansion in the early 2000s.
Messages seeking reaction to the fund’s shutdown have been sent to several lawyers involved in litigation on behalf of women who say they were sexually abused by Epstein.