Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's alleged recruiter, under investigation in US Virgin Islands
Prosecutors want to block her attempt to seek funds from the Epstein estate.
Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and longtime companion of infamous sex offender Jeffrey Epstein who was recently arrested on federal sex trafficking charges, is under investigation by authorities in the U.S. Virgin Islands in connection with a civil case the government is pursuing against Epstein's estate, according to court documents filed last week.
"The Government is and has been actively investigating Maxwell's participation in the criminal sex-trafficking and sexual abuse conduct of the Epstein Enterprise," wrote prosecutors from the office of Denise George, the island territory's attorney general.
Prosecutors are attempting to intervene in the lawsuit Maxwell filed against Epstein's estate earlier this year, seeking to block her demand for reimbursement of the legal, security and relocation expenses that she says she incurred as a result of what she claims were wrongful accusations of her alleged involvement in Epstein's alleged crimes.
"If Maxwell succeeds on her undocumented and suspect claims for indemnification by the Epstein Estate," prosecutors wrote, "that will threaten the availability of Estate funds to satisfy the Government's potential judgment in its lawsuit against the estate."
Attorney General George, through a spokesperson, declined to comment for this report, but she previously told ABC News that her office's investigation focuses "not only the criminal activity, but also the assets [and] persons who have been involved in that."
David Cattie, a Virgin Islands-based attorney for Maxwell, did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.
Maxwell was arrested by federal authorities in New Hampshire earlier this month and is facing a six-count federal indictment alleging that she conspired with Epstein in a multi-state sex trafficking scheme involving three unnamed minor victims between 1994 and 1997. She has not yet entered a plea to the criminal charges, but her defense attorneys wrote in a court filing in New York federal court that Maxwell "vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them and is entitled to the presumption of innocence."
She is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in New York on Tuesday.
Epstein first acquired property in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1998, purchasing Little St. James, an island off the east coast of St. Thomas, for about $8 million. He then spent millions of dollars developing an elaborate estate, with a main house, swimming pool, helipad and guest villas overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Starting in 2010, Epstein made the island his permanent residence and established a host of vaguely-named corporations in the territory to run his business, charitable and personal affairs. He would later, through a series of separate transactions totaling more than $20 million, complete the purchase of a larger, neighboring island called Great St. James.
In January, Attorney General George filed a civil enforcement action against Epstein's estate, its co-executors and several of his corporate entities, alleging that Epstein, through his network of companies and associates, "trafficked, raped, sexually assaulted and held captive underage girls and young women at his properties in the Virgin Islands." The government also filed criminal activity liens against all of Epstein's properties and companies, which had the effect of freezing virtually all of the estate's assets worldwide while the case is ongoing.
In these latest filings, prosecutors allege that both Maxwell and the Epstein estate have taken steps to impede what the attorney general has described as a far-reaching probe into Epstein's operation.
"Mr. Epstein had a lot of companies, a web of companies that worked together in different ways … but it was in such a way that concealed a lot of his criminal activity," George told ABC News in an interview in St. Thomas in February. "And so it is a rather complex case, and we are continuously investigating to get the full picture."
The Epstein estate's latest response also reveals details about the scope of the inquiry.
"The Government has demanded extensive discovery not just from the named Defendants, but from at least nine third-parties," attorneys for the estate wrote. "In each case, the Government's discovery demands reach back decades."
In last week's filing, prosecutors describe Maxwell as a "critical fact witness" in their lawsuit against the estate. But attempts to serve Maxwell with a subpoena for documents have failed, prosecutors said, because she "resisted and evaded service of the subpoena during the three and a half months after its issuance."
Epstein's estate and its co-executors, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, who are named as defendants in the government's suit, are showing "no inclination to be anything but adversarial to the Government's interests," prosecutors said.
"They are refusing to comply with discovery," prosecutors wrote, "and even are seeking to prevent the Government from issuing subpoenas to key fact witnesses, such as the house managers for Little St. James, where Epstein (and likely Maxwell) sexually abused girls and women in the Virgin Islands."
Christopher Kroblin, a Virgin Islands-based attorney for the estate, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News, but he issued a statement following the publication of this report highlighting the estate’s motion to dismiss the government's lawsuit. The court has yet to rule in the estate's motion.
“The Co-Executors have moved to dismiss the USVI Attorney General’s claims as a misguided attempt to usurp the proper role of the USVI Probate Court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over the administration of Mr. Epstein’s Estate,” Kroblin told ABC News. “To date, the GVI offers no explanation for its now-claimed lack of knowledge of Mr. Epstein’s alleged activities in the USVI after he registered as a sex offender in early 2010, more than ten years ago, or why the GVI failed to supervise or monitor such activities pursuant to the GVI’s statutory responsibilities. The Co-Executors believe that, pending the Court’s ruling on their motion, a stay of discovery is appropriate so that the Estate’s assets – the source for funding the Epstein Victim’s Compensation Program, an independently run, voluntary claims process established by the Co-Executors and approved last month by the USVI Probate Court -- are not dissipated in defending against the USVI Attorney General’s ill-conceived action.”
Prosecutors asked the court to issue letters rogatory, a request for judicial assistance to a foreign court, to subpoena Miles and Cathy Alexander, a South African couple who served as house managers on Little St. James from 1999 to 2007, for documents and testimony.
The Alexanders have, over the years, denied interview requests from ABC News, but the couple told the Daily Mail in 2011 that Maxwell had made it clear when she hired them for the position that discretion was part of the job description.
"She said we had to keep quiet about what we saw or heard on the island," Cathy Alexander said.
Miles Alexander reportedly said he refused several requests from Epstein to smuggle female guests onto the island by boat, so as to avoid certain immigration requirements that would have created a record of everyone entering and leaving the island, though he and Cathy suspect he found other ways to circumvent those policies.
"I saw some girls who I thought were very young-looking -- about 16 or 17 easily," Cathy Alexander said.
Attorneys for Epstein's estate, however, have sought to block the move to question the Alexanders, claiming that a five-year statute of limitations on the government's claims renders documents and testimony related to their time in Epstein's employ irrelevant.
"The letters rogatory reflect the Government's aggressive and misguided discovery campaign against the Estate and third-parties alike," the estate's attorneys wrote. "No amount of discovery can salvage the Government's defective claims."
Attorney General George, meanwhile, has said that she is determined to "hold persons accountable" for any criminal activity her investigation uncovers.
"We follow the evidence," George told ABC News in February. "And where the evidence leads us, that's where we'll go."
This report was featured in the Tuesday, July 14, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.
"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.
ABC News Live
24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events