Jeffrey Epstein fund abruptly halts payouts to victims


NEW YORK (AP) — A fund set up to provide money to dozens of women who said they were abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein when they were as young as 14 has abruptly suspended payouts, saying Thursday that it has temporarily run out of money.

The announcement by the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program came through a release that blamed the suspension on uncertainty about the liquidity of estate assets needed to finance payouts.

Officials said the fund would have up to $630 million when it started its operations last June. But the shutdown came after only $50 million had been paid out, according to a release put out by the fund, which was established with the approval of a judge in the Virgin Islands.

It said payments will not resume before March 25, the deadline to file claims. The deadline to register for the program is Monday.

According to the release, the program’s 150 claims to date have far exceeded expectations; when the fund began, the program said there was expected to be over 70 claims.

Jordy Feldman, the fund’s administrator, said the suspension of payouts was necessary to protect those who have not yet resolved their claims.

“Issuing a compensation offer that cannot be timely and fully funded and paid, consistent with the way the Program has operated to date, would compromise claimants’ interests and the guiding principles of the Program,” Feldman said.

The fund provides an alternative to pursuing claims through the courts. Working with Feldman is Kenneth Feinberg, a well-known mediator who oversaw compensation funds for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and of clergy sex abuse within New York’s Roman Catholic archdiocese.

It was established after Epstein, 66, killed himself at a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019 while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges that alleged he abuse women and girls under the age 18 at his Florida estate and his Manhattan mansion in the early 2000s.

Messages seeking reaction to the fund’s shutdown have been sent to several lawyers involved in litigation on behalf of women who say they were sexually abused by Epstein.

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