A fund set as much as present cash to scores of girls who say they have been abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein after they have been as younger as 14 has abruptly suspended payouts over unsure funding – an motion the Virgin Islands lawyer normal blamed Thursday on Epstein’s property as she moved to freeze its belongings.
The announcement by the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program got here by a launch that attributed the suspension to uncertainty concerning the liquidity of property belongings wanted to finance payouts.
Officers stated the fund, which operates independently of the property, would have as much as $630m when it started operations final June.
It stated funds, which have topped $55m, is not going to resume earlier than March 25, the deadline to file claims. The deadline to register for the programme, based mostly in Washington, DC in the US, is Monday.
Late Thursday, US Virgin Islands Lawyer Common Denise N George stated in a press release that her workplace was looking for a court docket order to freeze all funds and gross sales of belongings by the co-executors of Epstein’s property to protect and shield its belongings.
“My workplace’s worst fears have been realized as we discovered the Epstein Property is not going to make its at present owed fee to the fund it claimed to have set as much as compensate sexual abuse survivors and victims of Jeffrey Epstein,” George stated.
“The Property has discovered its option to pay for attorneys, landscaping, and helicopter charges, however not the courageous girls who’ve stepped ahead to take part within the compensation fund. It’s, unconscionably, one other promise made and damaged by Epstein and now, his Property,” she stated.
George stated she was unaware that the property was defaulting on deposits it was required to make till the property knowledgeable her Wednesday that it couldn’t make its agreed-to fee and didn’t know when it might.
She stated the property had breached an settlement with the federal government of the Virgin Islands and attorneys for victims that was authorised by the Probate Courtroom of the US Virgin Islands.
In a press release, the property stated it has up to now funded the programme with over $87m to pay claimants and that over $55m has been paid out.
It stated the property completed 2020 with $240m in belongings, however that a lot of them have been residential properties, personal investments and plane that should be bought – a course of hampered by the coronavirus pandemic and lawsuits in opposition to which the property should defend.
Property lawyer Daniel Weiner stated in an e-mail that the payouts since June are “a measure of the Applications’ exceptional effectivity in listening to and issuing determinations for the good thing about scores of claimants”.
He stated the lawyer normal’s claims in court docket have been “factually and legally unsupportable” and he known as upon her to raise liens on two islands in St Thomas which are owned by the property in order that they are often bought and the cash disbursed to girls by the fund.
In line with the discharge from the fund, the programme’s 150 claims up to now have far exceeded expectations. When the fund started, the programme stated there was anticipated to be over 70 claims.
Jordy Feldman, the fund’s administrator, stated the suspension of payouts was mandatory to guard those that haven’t but resolved their claims.
“Issuing a compensation provide that can’t be well timed and totally funded and paid, according to the best way the Program has operated up to now, would compromise claimants’ pursuits and the guiding ideas of the Program,” Feldman stated in a press release.
The fund supplies an alternative choice to pursuing claims by the courts. It was established with assist from Kenneth Feinberg, a well known mediator who oversaw compensation funds for victims of the September 11 assaults and of clergy intercourse abuse inside New York’s Roman Catholic archdiocese.
The fund was financed with cash from the property of Epstein, 66, who killed himself at a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019 whereas he awaited trial on intercourse trafficking fees that alleged he abused girls and ladies beneath the age 18 at his Florida property and his Manhattan mansion within the early 2000s.
Messages looking for response to the fund’s shutdown have been despatched to a number of attorneys concerned in litigation on behalf of girls who say they have been sexually abused by Epstein.