Jeffrey Epstein case: Ghislaine Maxwell and others ‘under FBI investigation’
British socialite allegedly facilitated late US financier charged with sex trafficking
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at an event in New York in 2005. Photograph: Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty
The FBI is investigating the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and several other people linked to the US financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, according to two law-enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.
They said a principal focus of the FBI’s investigation is Ms Maxwell, a long-time associate of Epstein, and other “people who facilitated” Epstein’s allegedly illegal behaviour.
The FBI also is following up on many leads received from women who contacted a hotline the agency set up at its New York field office in the wake of Epstein’s arrest in July, the sources said.
One of the sources said the probe remains at an early stage.
The sources declined to give further details or identify the people they are looking at apart from Ms Maxwell, but they said the FBI has no current plans to interview Prince Andrew, a friend of Epstein’s who stepped down from his public duties in November because of what he called his “ill-judged” association with the well-connected money manager.
A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment.
A representative for the British royal family said that whether the agency interviewed Andrew was “a matter for the FBI”.
Epstein’s suicide in August, at the age of 66, came a little over a month after he was arrested and charged with trafficking dozens of underage girls as young as 14 from at least 2002 to 2005. Prosecutors said he recruited girls to give him massages, which became sexual in nature.
He had pleaded not guilty.
After Epstein’s arrest the FBI urged anyone who had been victimised by Epstein or had additional information to call the agency’s hotline.
The US attorney general, William Barr, vowed to carry on the case against anyone who was complicit with the financier. “Any coconspirators should not rest easy,” he said in August.
The sources said they had received numerous tips from the hotline, which they are looking into.
Ms Maxwell, the daughter of the late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, is an ex-girlfriend of Epstein who remained a member of his inner circle. She has largely disappeared from public view since 2016.
Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s alleged victims, has said in a civil lawsuit that Ms Maxwell recruited her into Epstein’s circle, where she claims Epstein forced her to have sex with him and friends including Prince Andrew.
Ms Maxwell has called Ms Giuffre’s allegations lies. Ms Giuffre in response filed a defamation suit against Ms Maxwell in 2015. Ms Giuffre repeated the claims about the prince in a BBC interview that aired this month.
Prince Andrew (59) also categorically denies the accusations and has said he has no recollection of meeting Ms Giuffre, who was previously named Virginia Roberts.
The two law-enforcement sources said that the FBI’s principal focus is on people who facilitated Epstein and that Andrew does not fit into that category. They did not rule out the possibility that the FBI would seek to interview Andrew at a later date. – Reuters