Estate records reveal that millions of dollars were transferred from the estate of the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and a secretive bank he established in the Virgin Islands six years ago, according to the New York Times.
The bank, Southern Country International, was one of the territory’s first international banking entities, and was only authorized to conduct business with offshore clients. The Times notes that its 2014 approval was unusual, given that Epstein was a convicted sex offender by that time.
After Epstein’s death last August in a Manhattan jail cell, $15.5 million was transferred to the bank from his estate in December. $2.6 million was then transferred back to the estate, leaving $12.9 million in the mysterious bank.
Two weeks later, all but $499,759 had vanished.
According to Virgin Islands magistrate judge, Carolyn Hernon-Purcell, “There’s no explanation” for why Southern Country would be receiving checks from the estate.
A lawyer for the estate responded that some of the payment had been made in error, but the judge was not satisfied with his response and asked him to follow up with a fuller accounting.
The checks — listed in the estate’s transactions for routine payments such as cable-TV bills and phone service for Mr. Epstein’s many properties — stand out. The list of payments were filed with Judge Hermon-Purcell, who is overseeing his $635 million estate, including the possible establishment of a compensation fund for his victims. –New York Times
The Times notes that during roughly the same period as Southern Country International bank was established, the Virgin Islands granted a lucrative tax break to a company owned by Epstein, Southern Trust, which was “developing sophisticated algorithms to mine DNA and financial databases,” according to the report.
Curiously, “The tax break came from the territory’s Economic Development Authority, which was approved by the territory’s former governor, John de Jongh Jr., while his wife, Cecile, worked for Mr. Epstein. Neither Ms. de Jongh nor her husband returned messages seeking comment,” the Times reports.
The tax break, granted in 2013, was a boon for Mr. Epstein. Southern Trust generated about $300 million in profit in six years, and he paid an effective tax rate of about 3.9 percent. The source of Southern Trust’s revenue is not clear; the bare-bones corporate filings made by the company in the Virgin Islands do not list any clients. –New York Times
Last month, Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise N. George sued Epstein’s estate, arguing that the deceased pedophile had tarnished the territory’s reputation. The lawsuit seeks to seize Epstein’s private islands and dissolve his shell companies she says were fronts for his sex-trafficking enterprise.
George claims that girls as young as 11 and 12 were brought to his private estate on Little Saint James (or simply ‘pedo island’) – where former President Bill Clinton and other high-profile guests reportedly vacationed, according to several Epstein accusers. Epstein kept a computerized database to track the availability and movements of his victims, according to the New York Times.
The suit seeks to intervene in the administration of Mr. Epstein’s will to safeguard assets for dozens of his victims, claiming the coexecutors may have a conflict of interest because they were officers in many of Mr. Epstein’s companies, including Southern Country and Southern Trust. The coexecutors, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, did not return requests for comment.
“Epstein clearly used the Virgin Islands and his residence in the U.S. Virgin Islands at Little Saint James as a way to be able to conceal and to be able to expand his activity here,” said George.
And it looks like Epstein’s bank may have been part of that expansion. What his executors are doing with it now is anyone’s guess.