The fund set up to compensate women who were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein is suspending payouts because of uncertainty around its cash flow, the administrator said Thursday.
The Epstein Victims Compensation Fund has received more than 150 claims and paid out more than $50 million.
But administrator Jordana Feldman said she was forced to pause the program after Epstein's estate informed her Wednesday that it did not have sufficient funds to satisfy the most recent request for replenishment and that it could not predict when the money would become available.
"Although I sincerely regret having to take this action, I have concluded that it is necessary to protect the interests of eligible claimants who have not yet resolved their claims through the program," Feldman said in a statement.
"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," she said.
Feldman said the program is continuing to accept claims and meet with victims.
Attorneys for Epstein's estate said its assets were valued at about $240 million as of Dec. 31 but that much of it was in such illiquid entities as residential properties, private investments and aircraft.
"Regrettably, the Co-Executors' efforts to sell these assets have been hampered by the now nearly-year-long coronavirus pandemic, and its enormous adverse effect on local and global economies," said Daniel Weiner, an attorney for the estate's executors.
"In addition, the Estate has been forced to expend substantial funds in defending against multiple civil lawsuits and administrative proceedings, including attempting to clear recent fraudulent claims on title to the Estate's Palm Beach property," he said.
The estate was valued at about $630 million in early 2020, but it has since paid out millions in taxes and disbursements to victims through the program.
Weiner said the estate's executors are working to liquidate its assets and expect "that the program can soon fully resume its regular operations."
The Epstein estate hired outside experts to develop the program in consultation with victims' attorneys and the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a lavish home, to limit litigation against the estate and avoid court cases that could drag on for years.
Accepting money from the fund means victims cannot sue the estate separately, but it does not prevent them from sharing information with law enforcement agencies, participating in criminal investigations or sharing their stories publicly.
U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George released a sharply worded statement late Thursday.
“My office’s worst fears have been realized as we learned the Epstein Estate will not make its currently owed payment to the fund it claimed to have set up to compensate sexual abuse survivors and victims of Jeffrey Epstein," she said.
"The Estate has found its way to pay for lawyers, landscaping, and helicopter fees, but not the brave women who have stepped forward to participate in the compensation fund."
Epstein, 66, was arrested in July 2019 on charges that he sexually abused and trafficked dozens of young girls in the early 2000s. Epstein, whose social circle once included Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, pleaded not guilty. He died by suicide in a cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in August 2019 days after a judge denied his request to await trial at his Manhattan mansion.
Several women had already filed civil suits by the time of his death. Dozens of women have since sued the estate.