A statement published late on Thursday by Epstein Victims' Compensation Programme's independent administrator, Jordana Feldman, explained that it will temporarily stop receiving claims until "such time that the Administrator has sufficient certainty that eligible claims can be timely and fully funded and paid".
Epstein's estate, which includes sprawling residences in Manhattan, Florida and private islands in the Virgin Islands territories, was initially valued at $620 million in July of last year. Although it was estimated to be around half that today, the fund is facing shortages in liquidity. Selling off the estates is hampered by the legal red tape from local prosecutors in addition to the estates' ill-repute.
Feldman said she could not accept any more claims from alleged victims, which she arbitrates with a legal team to determine the payout amounts, because of the uncertainty of an eventual payout at the current time.
"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 Programme", Feldman said. "Issuing a compensation offer that cannot be timely and fully funded and paid, consistent with the way the Programme has operated to date, would compromise claimants' interests and the guiding principles of the Programme".
Epstein was arrested twice for the offence. In 2005, he served a 13-month sentence in the United States on charges of molesting an underage girl. In July 2019, he was arrested again, this time on suspicion of running a sex-trafficking ring that lured underage girls to his New York and Florida estate to attend sex parties. Epstein, who was facing up to 45 years behind bars upon conviction, presumably committed suicide in his prison cell during his pretrial detention in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.
The fund was set up last year following an agreement with a local attorney general to place measures to protect Epstein’s victims, who are eligible to apply for a cut of the multi-million dollar estate.
At least 20 lawsuits against the convicted sex offender were reportedly dismissed which may indicate that some women reached settlements privately with Epstein's estate. Moreover, the estate paid over $5 million to law firms in the last quarter.
The Virgin Islands previously accused Epstein of using his estate located on two islands in the territory, both owned by the financier, to sexually abuse and traffic underage girls.