Ever since it became widely known that Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in a jail cell last year following an apparent suicide bid, was accused of sex trafficking minors, there's been a major interest in the life of philanthropic multi-millionaire. It was even subject to a popular Netflix series, Filthy Rich.
Many of Epstein's famous associates, such as ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell and Prince Andrew, have also found themselves thrust under the microscope of public scrutiny too. While they've both denied all unsavoury charges against them, the alleged victims, including Virginia Giuffre (who claims the royal had sex with her underage, after Maxwell trafficked her into Epstein's sordid world – something the prince has refuted multiple times), are still fighting to be heard.
Plenty about Epstein and his world remains murky and obscure, including the whereabouts of Maxwell, and has left many people also wondering just how he became quite so rich in the first place.
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Whilst it's known that Epstein worked on Wall Street at one point, his wealth was so very vast that he boasted luxury houses all over the world – from Paris to New York to Palm Beach, Florida – as well as his own 70-acre secluded island, where it's claimed he carried out abuse on young women in private, taking their passports should they try to escape.
How did Jeffrey Epstein amass so much wealth?
As reported by Forbes, a month before Epstein's death death, “The source of his wealth — a money management firm in the U.S. Virgin Islands — generates no public records, nor has his client list ever been released.” It's estimated that in total the registered sex offender amassed a fortune of £505m.
Initially starting out as a maths professor (after lying about his qualifications), Epstein was fired for "poor performance" and then offered a role at Bear Stearns, an investment firm. He worked there as a trader, then partner, for many years, until it emerged he'd breached security violations and subsequently lost his job.
After leaving Bear Stearns in 1981, Epstein set up his own company – a consulting firm called Intercontinental Assets Group Inc. – which, rather ironically, helped clients to recover stolen money from fraudulent lawyers and brokers.
It's also later claimed that in 1993, Epstein was involved in what's known as a 'Ponzi scheme' – a fraudulent investing scam in which investors are falsely told there are high rates of return with little risk. Steven Hoffenberg, who was jailed for eighteen years for his role in it, said of Epstein, "[He had] no moral compass. He was a brilliant, seductive, criminal mastermind."
Like many things related to Epstein, it's unclear why he was never charged for his involvement in the scam or whether he benefitted financially from it.
Another claim against Epstein comes from a former friend and client, Les Wexler, the owner of Victoria's Secrets, who after Epstein's death said the disgraced sex offender “misappropriated” $46m of his own money.
What happened to Jeffrey Epstein's money when he died?
It's reported that on 8 August 2019, just two days before he died, Epstein signed a will that said all his assets and money would be transferred into a trust fund in the event of his death. This move has made it more difficult for alleged victims to seek financial compensation from his death.
“This is the last act of Epstein’s manipulation of the system, even in death,” said attorney Jennifer Freeman, who represents child sex abuse victims, according to The Guardian.
By choosing to move his fortune into a trust, Epstein has concealed the identities of who (or what, as it could be organisations) has been gifted money from him and his estate. The women attempting to collect financial payments from Epstein as some form of compensation for the horrors he is accused of subjecting them to will now have to persuade a judge to make those details public information.
Unfortunately for those seeking justice, this is just the first step in a long process. They'll then have to have a judge agree that they're deserving of compensation as victims of sex crimes.
It would also be up to a judge to decide the amount each person should get and if the amounts given to Epstein’s named beneficiaries should be reduced. Those beneficiaries would also be allowed to fight against that in court, saying they're entitled to the full amount Epstein left to them.
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