By JAMES HILL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Lawyers for the co-executors of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s estate contend that the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands is “crippling the administration” of the $655 million estate and jeopardizing its ability to pay operating expenses and legal bills, according to court records in St. Thomas.
An estate bank account dwindled to about $240,000 last month, estate lawyers wrote, and argued that unless the attorney general released additional funds, the estate would be “unable to meet its imminent financial obligations” for staff payroll and utilities at Epstein’s U.S. and French properties, appraisals of those properties for eventual sale, and maintenance and parking for Epstein’s idled planes and helicopters.
“In the event that the Attorney General’s intransigence continues, the Estate’s Co-Executors will no longer be able to continue to administer the Estate,” wrote Christopher Kroblin, counsel for the estate’s co-executors in a letter to a probate court judge last month. “The residential properties will quickly deteriorate, the aircraft and other assets will fall into disrepair, its assets will remain unsold, and legal proceedings will be defaulted.”
The island territory’s attorney general, Denise George, has exerted strict oversight of the estate’s purse strings since January, when she sued the estate’s co-executors and a host of related corporations, alleging that Epstein’s network of corporate entities were part of a criminal enterprise used to fund and conceal the trafficking of women and girls in the Virgin Islands.
As a result, the attorney general placed criminal-activity liens that effectively froze all of the estate’s holdings worldwide.
Since then, the attorney general has frequently questioned the estate’s expenditures and operating expenses and demanded that her office be provided with documentation to justify the costs.
But in a statement Tuesday to ABC News, the attorney general’s office contended that the estate has been “unwaveringly unwilling” to provide such information.
“The Attorney General has consistently reminded the Estate that the Government is willing to release funds to pay for the Estate’s documented expenses, including any emergency expenses to preserve the Estate,” the statement said.
“Absent verification that funds are being used for legitimate and appropriate purposes, and consistent with her duty under Virgin Islands law, the Attorney General cannot and will not release additional funds.”
One recent dispute, according to court records, arose when the attorney general’s office learned the estate was paying the legal expenses of an immigration attorney the government “has reason to believe was retained to seek immigration status for victims of Epstein’s and others’ sexual abuse.”
“Payments to defend this lawyer are not appropriate expenditures of Estate funds, and these payments suggest that Estate funds are being used even now to conceal and protect participants in Epstein’s criminal enterprise,” an attorney for the government wrote in a court filing.
Lawyers for the estate countered that some people who have been subpoenaed by the Virgin Islands government cannot afford counsel and have requested assistance from the estate.
“It is deeply troubling that a government law enforcement agency contends that affording individuals the opportunity for legal representation in the face of a scope-less law enforcement investigation constitutes an act of concealment,” Kroblin wrote in a letter submitted to the court.
The estate’s attorneys have moved to dismiss the government’s lawsuit and have asked a court to lift the liens.
In a recent court filing, they claimed the estate’s operating costs included $180,000 a month for staff and expenses at Epstein’s properties, and $83,560 for maintenance and parking of his aircraft. The estate also owed $4 million dollars in legal fees associated with defending lawsuits against the estate, including more than two dozen filed by alleged victims of Epstein’s abuse.
Attorneys for the estate were not immediately available for comment.
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