Jeffrey Epstein victims' fund to suspend compensation offers

The fund has paid out nearly $50 million to alleged victims.

04 February 2021 Thursday 14:01
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Jeffrey Epstein victims' fund to suspend compensation offers

An independent claims program for alleged victims of this overdue sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein has suspended settlement offers to those individuals due to uncertainty about future financing of this program.

"Although I sincerely regret having to take this action, I've concluded it is essential to protect the interests of qualified claimants who haven't yet resolved their claims throughout the application," said Jordana H. Feldman, a New York lawyer who administers the Epstein Victims Compensation Program, which started operating last June.

The Epstein estate, that was originally valued at over $630 million, has already paid out almost $50 million to alleged victims throughout the program, but has apparently run into liquidity issues and has been not able to replenish the account designated to cover statements from alleged victims. Since the program started operating last year, more than 150 people have filed claims, far exceeding initial expectations.

"Issuing a compensation offer that can't be timely and entirely financed and paid, consistent with how in which the application has worked thus far, would compromise claimants' interests and the guiding principles of this program," according to a statement from Feldman on Thursday.

As the payment program was being designed after Epstein's death in August 2019, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Denise George, obtained assurances in the estate there were sufficient assets to fully fund the program and that there was no upper limit on the amount it might set aside to pay claims.

The program's protocol requires the estate to pay all qualified claims based solely on the administrator's decision and to supplement the available cash for compensation from other funds in the estate once the account falls below a certain threshold. Earlier this week, the estate informed Feldman that"it did not have enough liquidity to fully satisfy the latest request for replenishment and it could not predict when additional liquidity would be secured," according to an announcement from Feldman.

Feldman told ABC News on Thursday that she was making the decision to suspend supplies because the people submitting claims deserve"transparency."

"The victims need to know of the change in the way that the program is functioning. They can't be stored in the dark about it," she explained.

The program will continue accepting and assessing claims during the period of suspension, but no reimbursement offers will be made until after the filing deadline next month"or before such time that the secretary has enough certainty that eligible claims could be timely and entirely financed and paid," according to Feldman.

"The estate has proposed that the program that it is working to secure additional liquidity to continue to fund the application and that it is committed to paying all qualified claims with regard to the protocol," she explained in a statement.

According to a filing this month in probate court in St. Thomas, the worth of the Epstein estate's assets stood at roughly $240 million at the end of 2020.

An attorney for the estate did not immediately reply to a email Thursday morning requesting comment.