The Justice Department invoked a legal cooperation treaty with the United Kingdom last month as it seeks an interview with Prince Andrew about deceased sex offender and jet-setting financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The Southern District of New York is pursuing testimony from Andrew, 60, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, as part of its investigation into Epstein, who was arrested last July on federal charges of sex trafficking in New York and Florida. The New York City medical examiner determined Epstein died by suicide in his cell in August. Andrew had been friends with Epstein since the late 1990s.
DOJ lawyers cited the 1994 mutual legal assistance treaty between the United States and the U.K. as they seek to compel an interview or sworn testimony from the Duke of York, as first reported Sunday by the Sun in the U.K. and confirmed by ABC News and other outlets. The DOJ made its appeal directly to the U.K. Home Office rather than trying to go through Buckingham Palace. It has previously been reported that Andrew is wanted as a witness and not as a target of the criminal investigation.
Virginia Giuffre, now 36, alleges Epstein and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, helped exploit her when she was underage and accused the prince of forcing her to have sex with him at Maxwell’s home in London and at Epstein’s homes in New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands when she was 17. Both Epstein and Andrew were longtime friends of Maxwell, who is also being scrutinized by investigators. Andrew has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
“He knows exactly what he’s done,” Giuffre said from the steps of a Manhattan courthouse in August. “And I hope he comes clean about it.”
Andrew said in November, “Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required.” But Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, has repeatedly expressed his frustration with Andrew’s level of assistance in the Epstein inquiry.
“He publicly offered … to cooperate with law enforcement investigating the crimes committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his co-conspirators,” Berman said in January, adding, “The Southern District of New York and the FBI have contacted Prince Andrew’s attorneys and requested to interview Prince Andrew, and to date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation.”
Berman echoed these complaints in March, saying that “contrary to Prince Andrew’s very public offer to cooperate with our investigation into Epstein’s co-conspirators … Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation, and our office is considering its options.”
Andrew’s team pushed back on Monday.
“The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ. Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero cooperation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered,” Andrew’s lawyers said in a statement. “Any pursuit of an application for mutual legal assistance would be disappointing, since the Duke of York is not a target of the DOJ investigation and has recently repeated his willingness to provide a witness statement.”
A spokesperson for the U.K. Home Office told the Washington Examiner that “as a matter of long-standing policy and practice, we neither confirm nor deny the existence of mutual legal assistance requests.” The DOJ declined to comment.
Andrew insisted in August that he first met Epstein in 1999. But flight logs showed that the prince’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, with whom he has remained close, and their two daughters were with Epstein in the Bahamas in April 1998. The prince also said he was “at a loss to be able to understand or explain” his dead friend’s “lifestyle.” But he downplayed his closeness with Epstein, referring to their relationship as a “former association or friendship.” He claimed to be in the dark about any of Epstein’s alleged sex crimes involving underage girls despite a friendship spanning well over a decade, repeated visits to and stays at Epstein’s various homes, and flights on Epstein’s planes.
Andrew said he saw Epstein infrequently, “probably no more than only once or twice a year.” It was, he added, “a mistake and an error” to visit him in 2010 after Epstein’s sex crime conviction.
Andrew spent multiple days on Epstein’s private island in February 1999, and, in 2000, the two saw each other nearly a half a dozen times or more in the U.K. and the U.S., with Andrew reportedly staying at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion multiple times.
While Andrew acknowledged he stayed in “a number” of Epstein’s residences, he did not mention he had invited Epstein to royal residences such as Windsor Castle, Sandringham Estate, and Balmoral Castle.
Lawyers for Epstein’s victims demanded that Andrew cooperate with the FBI’s investigation into Epstein’s activities following the Duke of York’s sit-down interview with BBC Newsnight in November. British legal experts said Andrew hurt his image, although there’s disagreement over whether his excuses increased any potential criminal jeopardy.
During his interview with the BBC, Andrew said he had no memory of meeting Giuffre and denied having sex with her despite a picture with his arm wrapped around Giuffre, which includes Maxwell in the background. Alleged sources close to Andrew told British newspapers the photo was faked, which Giuffre denied.
Attorney General William Barr said the investigation into Epstein’s alleged international sex trafficking conspiracy will continue and that any co-conspirators “should not rest easy.”
Epstein was arrested last year on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy for the alleged abuse of dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations, between 2002 and 2005. Prosecutors said Epstein built a “vast network of underage victims.”
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