Ghislaine Maxwell will be ‘naming names’ and ‘fully co-operating’ with the FBI and Prince Andrew is among those ‘very worried’ about what she might reveal, a former associate of Jeffrey Epstein has claimed.
Maxwell’s dramatic arrest on sex-trafficking charges yesterday has raised hopes among Epstein victims that prosecutors will untangle a ‘spider web’ of rich and powerful associates of the pair.
The socialite and daughter of late British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell was seized at a $1million home in New Hampshire and later appeared in court by video-link, where she was heard ‘sobbing’. She is now awaiting transfer to New York to face charges of procuring girls as young as 14 for Epstein to sexually abuse.
The latest twist in the case has ramped up the pressure on Andrew to testify about his relationship with Epstein and Maxwell – but sources close to the Duke say they are ‘bewildered’ because he has repeatedly offered to help.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the Epstein accuser who dragged Andrew into the mire by claiming she had sex with him in the early 2000s, last night celebrated Maxwell’s arrest and called her an ‘insidious creature’ who deserved to be locked up. Andrew denies her allegations, saying he has no recollection of meeting Miss Roberts.
Ghislaine Maxwell will be ‘naming names’ and ‘fully co-operating’ with the FBI and Prince Andrew is among those ‘very worried’ about what she might reveal, a former associate of Jeffrey Epstein has claimed (Epstein and Maxwell are pictured together in New York in 2005)
Prince Andrew (pictured during his BBC Newsnight interview last year) is under increasing pressure to give evidence – but the Duke’s legal team insists he has offered to help US investigators
Speaking to The Sun, Epstein’s former employer Steven Hoffenberg said Maxwell ‘knows everything’ and will ‘totally co-operate’ after her arrest.
Hoffenberg, a convicted fraudster who employed Epstein at Towers Financial in the 1980s, said ‘there’s a lot of people very worried’ about what Maxwell could reveal. ‘She’s going to cooperate and be very important. Andrew is definitely, definitely concerned,’ Hoffenberg said.
The 75-year-old added that the FBI would have known where Maxwell was ‘all the time’ before they seized her in New Hampshire yesterday morning.
‘It was a question if America was going to take the case or not, now America has made up its mind to take the case,’ he said.
US attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents one of Maxwell’s accusers, said ‘all others accused of enabling Jeffrey Epstein’s predations must immediately be brought to justice as well’.
‘Maxwell’s brutal, ruthless behaviour caused my client tremendous pain,’ Ms Bloom said in a statement, adding that she and her client applauded the socialite’s ‘long overdue arrest’.
One Epstein accuser, Michelle Licata, has previously voiced hopes that prosecutors looking into Epstein were ‘going to start digging into his life… and start pulling out this spider web of people that were related to it’, according to the New York Post.
Miss Roberts said last night: ‘Thank you to the FBI, Southern District of New York and anyone involved in the arrest of this insidious creature. Hope the judge throws the book at her. So so so happy- she’s finally where she belongs.’
The 36-year-old’s claims against Andrew are not part of the charges against Maxwell and a judge ordered them struck from court records in a separate case in 2015, without ruling on their veracity.
However, Miss Roberts is relevant to the charges because Maxwell is accused of perjury by claiming during a lawsuit against her in 2016 that she had no involvement in procuring underage girls.
Maxwell was picked up by the FBI and NYPD detectives at 8.30am at the property in Bradford, New Hampshire, she had bought in December 2019 using a limited liability company called Granite LLC to shield her name
Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, gestures as she speaks during a news conference to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her alleged role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in New York
Andrew, 60, has been at loggerheads with US prosecutors for months after they claimed he was failing to co-operate with their Epstein probe.
The Duke’s lawyers say he has offered to help on ‘at least three occasions this year’ but US officials claim he has ‘repeatedly declined our request’ for an interview.
Royal commentators say the discrepancy may lie in the nature of the offer, with Andrew’s lawyers offering a ‘witness statement’ while former US attorney Geoffrey Berman made it clear he was seeking an ‘interview’.
Andrew’s last verbal interview on the subject – his BBC Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis – was widely seen as a disaster and led to his resignation from public life just days later.
The prince was criticised for failing to show any empathy towards Epstein’s victims, and many of his explanations attracted ridicule. In a subsequent statement he said he ‘regretted my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein’ and ‘deeply sympathised with everyone who has been affected’.
‘Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required,’ he said at the time.
The issue was thrown into further confusion last month when Berman was fired by the Trump administration in a separate row.
Prosecutors renewed their appeal for Andrew to give evidence as they announced the charges against Maxwell yesterday, saying that ‘we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us’.
US lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents some of Epstein’s victims, said yesterday: ‘It is long overdue for Prince Andrew to stop making excuses and to stop playing the victim. He should contact the FBI immediately and agree to appear for an interview.’
A source close to the Duke said Andrew was ‘bewildered’ by the latest pressure, saying: ‘We have twice communicated with the DOJ in the last month and to date we have had no response.’
Andrew’s legal representatives are adamant that the Duke ‘is not and has never been a target’ of the criminal investigations and that US prosecutors are seeking his help as a witness. He denies any wrongdoing.
The prince was friends with Epstein and Maxwell during the 2000s but said in the BBC interview that he never saw or suspected any of Epstein’s crimes.
Maxwell with Epstein and Donald and Melania Trump in 2000
Maxwell has an astonishing network of high profile friends and acquaintances. She is shown at Chelsea Clinton’s 2010 wedding
Epstein died in his Manhattan jail cell last August after he was arrested on sex-trafficking charges. He was already a convicted pedophile after pleading guilty to a separate child sex charge in Florida in 2008.
Maxwell was taken into custody yesterday morning in Bradford, a small town in New Hampshire, on Thursday morning. Special Agent William Sweeney said at a press conference later that the FBI had been ‘discreetly keeping tabs’ on her for some time and that she recently moved to the property.
Maxwell is believed to have bought the 156-acre property with cash, using an LLC to hide her identity, in December. Agents ‘moved in’ yesterday morning. No other circumstances surrounding her arrest are known.
In a video-link court appearance on Thursday afternoon, her attorneys agreed to have the case moved to the Southern District of New York – where she is being charged.
Journalists could not see her but they were permitted to dial in to listen to the proceedings. Some heard a British woman – seemingly Maxwell – ‘sobbing’ and saying ‘I don’t understand’.
Prosecutors asked the judge to deny her bail, saying she is a flight risk with an international network of friends and access to unlimited resources. She has been held for now without bail and is likely to appear in court in New York City either tomorrow or on Monday.
It is unclear where she will now be detained before her next court appearance but the judge said she would be ‘temporarily’ placed in custody.
A grand jury returned a sealed, six-count indictment against her on June 29, almost a year after Epstein was charged.
The indictment alleges:
- Maxwell groomed three unnamed girls, all under the age of 18, in London, New York and Florida, and New Mexico between 1994 and 1997
- She befriended them by taking them to the movies or on shopping sprees and ‘normalized’ abusive behavior by getting undressed in front of them herself
- She encouraged them to travel to meet Epstein and engage in sex acts with them and him like ‘group massage sex’ in Epstein’s homes
- Her introduction of them to him resulted in him abusing them when she was not present
- She lied in 2016 depositions while being sued by Virginia Giuffre Roberts that she’d never groomed or had sex with underage girls herself
Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts (5 years max sentence)
Enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts (20 years)
Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity (20 years)
Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity (10 years minimum, life maximum)
X 2 counts of Perjury (x 10 years)
Prosecutors say Maxwell groomed three girls between 1994 and 1997 for Epstein.
They are not named in the indictment, but she allegedly targeted them in London, Florida, New York and New Mexico.
Maxwell, it is alleged, would befriend the girls by asking them about their life and their schooling. She would put them at ease by taking them to the movies and taking them shopping, winning their trust to later deliver them to Epstein, it’s alleged.
To ‘normalize’ the abuse that would come later, prosecutors say she undressed in front of the girls herself and asked them sexual questions.
She then not only facilitated Epstein abusing them, prosecutors say, but took part in some of it herself.
The alleged sex abuse includes ‘sexualized group massages’.
The indictment also says Maxwell made the girl feel ‘indebted’ to Epstein by encouraging them to take money from him and let him pay for their education and travel.
Maxwell, who has yet to enter a plea, faces 35 years in prison if convicted. She has previously denied any involvement in Epstein’s crimes.
The indictment reads in part: ‘Ghislaine Maxwell facilitated Jeffrey Epstein’s access to minor victims knowing that he had a sexual preference for underage girls and that he intended to engage in sexual activity with those victims’.
Among the allegations in the indictment is that Maxwell groomed the girls, including one in London.
‘Victim 1’ met Maxwell when she was 14 in 1994, the indictment reads.
Maxwell allegedly groomed her by taking her to the movies and on shopping trips, asking her about school, her classes, her family and other aspects of her life.
‘She then sought to normalize inappropriate and abusive conduct by, among other things, undressing in front of her and being present when she undressed in front of Epstein,’ according to the indictment.
The trio then engaged in ‘group sexualised massages’ on more than one occasion, the indictment claims. The victim was allegedly encouraged by Epstein and Maxwell to travel to the financier’s homes in New York and Florida ‘for the purpose of sexual encounters with Epstein’.
‘Victim 2’ met Ghislaine in 1996 and was allegedly groomed by her at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch.
The indictment claims that Maxwell gave her a topless massage and ‘encouraged [her] to massage Epstein’.
‘Victim 3’ met Maxwell in London in 1994 and was groomed until 1995, it is alleged. Maxwell encouraged her to massage Epstein ‘knowing that Epstein would engage in sex acts’ as she did so, prosecutors claim.
The indictment alleges that Maxwell knew the three women were underage at the time.
At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Acting US Attorney for the Southern District Audrey Strauss, said: ‘Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, then delivered them into the trap that she and Epstein had set for them.
‘She pretended to be a woman they could trust, all the while she was setting them up to be sexually abused by Epstein in some cases, by Maxwell herself.
‘Today after many years, Ghislaine Maxwell finally stands charged for her role in these crimes.’
FBI Special Agent William Sweeney said the bureau had been ‘keeping tabs’ on Maxwell ‘for some time’.
‘We have been discreetly keeping tabs on Maxwell for some time.
‘She slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims continue to live with the trauma inflicted on them years earlier.’
Before Epstein’s disgrace, she and Maxwell had an astonishing network of influential and important friends and acquaintances around the world, including Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
Maxwell was photographed at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and she also flew with Clinton on Epstein’s private jet, dubbed the ‘Lolita Express’ because it was used to ferry young girls to his private Caribbean island or ranch in New Mexico.
She has also been photographed with Epstein and Donald and Melania Trump at parties, years before Epstein became a social pariah.
So will Ghislaine Maxwell clear Prince Andrew – or damn him? RICHARD KAY on the agonising questions for the Queen and the Palace
By Richard Kay for the Daily Mail
Queen Elizabeth II attends a military ceremony in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark her borthday on June 13, 2020 in Windsor
There is never a good time for the proverbial ‘bad penny’ to turn up, so imagine how the Queen received news of the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell and her appearance in court on sex-trafficking charges.
Maxwell was once a welcome visitor to royal homes, an overnight guest at Sandringham as well as being invited to one of the starriest parties ever thrown at Windsor Castle, the so-called Dance of the Decades in the summer of 2000.
Nor was that her only invitation to royal glamour at Windsor. In 2006 she was a guest at Princess Beatrice’s lavish costume ball to mark her 18th birthday.
On another occasion the vivacious socialite was photographed at Prince Andrew’s side in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, where admission is at ‘Her Majesty’s discretion’.
Yesterday, with the Queen still in lockdown with Prince Philip at Windsor, there must have been the iciest of feelings at the news that the daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell had been taken into custody.
As a mother, Her Majesty will, of course, be anxious about what Maxwell’s arrest and her knowledge of the alleged activities of paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein mean for her son.
And as monarch there will be anger at the prospect of the good name of the Royal Family being dragged through the mud once again.
No family matter has concerned her more than the shadow hanging over Andrew. To her, it is infinitely more serious than the selfish trivialities of the exiled Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex.
For more than seven months it has been an ongoing crisis, with every sordid revelation lapping that bit closer to Buckingham Palace.
Ever since that Newsnight interview in which Andrew spectacularly failed to offer any sympathy for Epstein’s victims and showed no remorse over his friendship with the billionaire sex offender, fears about the implications for the Prince have multiplied.
Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts, aged 17 at Ghislaine Maxwell’s townhouse in London, Britain on March 13 2001
Maxwell’s arrest changes everything. She, remember, is in the famous photo of Andrew with his arm around the bare midriff of teenager Virginia Roberts — a picture of which the Duke of York has no recollection — which was taken by Epstein in Maxwell’s Belgravia home.
Does she really believe Andrew’s insinuations that the photo was doctored or manipulated?
Then there is the most damaging claim of all from Roberts, who says that, aged 17, she and Andrew had sex three times. The Prince denies it.
If anyone knows the truth it must be Maxwell, whom Andrew befriended during visits to New York after his divorce from the Duchess of York.
It was through Maxwell that Andrew was introduced to Epstein, who was found dead in his New York prison cell a year ago. And on all those social occasions — including Beatrice’s party — where Ghislaine was a guest of Andrew, so, too, was Epstein.
As the Royal Family and their advisers have agonised over how best to protect the integrity of the monarchy from the fall-out of the Epstein affair, there may be some slim consolation.
Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell at Ascot. With them are Edward (far left) and Caroline Stanley (far right)
The charges brought by the FBI against Maxwell relate to a period in the mid-1990s — before Prince Andrew had ever met the sleazy Epstein.
Perhaps more significantly, the decision to strip Andrew of all royal duties and force him to step down from official engagements looks even more of a wise move.
With the benefit of hindsight, the prompt action — brokered by Prince Charles and Prince William — has been the only moment when the royals have been on the front foot. Andrew’s stubborn failure to sever contacts with Epstein after he was first accused of under-age sex offences, was the major contributor to his own downfall.
He did, belatedly, end up cutting ties with him — but only after he was photographed walking with the financier in Central Park, New York.
Yet he continued to keep up his friendship with Ghislaine, the woman who brought them together and who was described as ‘Jeffrey’s pimp’.
Although the relationship between the two was said to be platonic, their lives were so intertwined that Fergie was reported to have become concerned that Maxwell was exerting an unhealthy influence on him. Even so, the two remained friends.
In the Newsnight interview, Andrew admitted he had seen Maxwell last year. The meeting, he said, was before Epstein’s arrest on sex-trafficking charges last July and that they did not discuss the billionaire. He said: ‘There wasn’t anything to discuss because he wasn’t in the news.’
Epstein and Maxwell met in New York, where she had set up home following the death of her father, who fell from his yacht and drowned in 1991.
She was a pivotal figure on the New York social scene. ‘Great fun, always was, still is,’ said a friend. ‘I’m not at all surprised that Prince Andrew likes her. She is full of energy, full of plans.
‘She would ring and say: “Ten of us are going to a restaurant then a club. Do come, it will be fun.” She was persuasive, too, and Andrew loved that.’
By 2000 Maxwell and Andrew, who were introduced by the Duchess when she was a regular fixture on the New York party circuit, were very close.
But they were not a couple. She would even introduce him to future girlfriends, such as Emma Gibbs. They were often seen together in public.
The pair caused a minor stir when they made an appearance at a Ralph Lauren launch in the city. One source observed: ‘They certainly seemed to have a good time together.’ Andrew was also a regular guest at the dinner parties she would hold at the home of Epstein, who was by then her ex-boyfriend, on the Upper East Side.
Such was the importance of the role Maxwell played in Andrew’s life that it was even claimed he once asked the Queen’s permission to take her on an official work trip. This was refused.
Andrew was widely criticised after he appeared with Maxwell at a ‘pimps and prostitutes’ theme party thrown by the model Heidi Klum.
To his ex-wife, such behaviour was beginning to damage his reputation. She was also concerned at the effect it would have on their daughters.
In 2001, when Andrew was about to take up his role as Britain’s trade envoy, a friend of the Duchess told the Mail on Sunday: ‘Fergie and a lot of other people who love Andrew believe his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein has become really dangerous. They’re using him just for his name and access and he is so innocent he doesn’t realise.’
How prophetic those words were to become. Among courtiers there is considerable anxiety about what Maxwell’s arrest means for the Duke of York. They believe that such is her intimate knowledge of Epstein, she could damn Andrew or clear him.
For Andrew, his reputation is gone — but for the Queen at 94, this latest twist to one of the most unpalatable episodes of her reign can only be troubling.