Jeffrey Epstein, the politically well-connected US billionaire, has been charged with sex trafficking, according to reports.
The New York Times
reported that Epstein, a wealthy Florida financier, was arrested in the New York area and was in custody. He is expected to appear before a federal magistrate on Monday. The NYT cited two anonymous sources.
The charges against Epstein were first reported on Saturday night
by the Daily Beast. The website cited multiple anonymous sources.
The Associated Press also reported Epstein’s arrest, citing three unnamed law enforcement officials.
The Southern District of
New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Epstein’s alleged abuse of minors has been the subject of lawsuits brought by victims, investigations by local and federal authorities, and exposés in the press for more than a decade.
Epstein, 66, reached a
non-prosecution deal in 2008 with the office of the then Miami US attorney, Alexander Acosta, to end a federal sexual abuse investigation involving at least 40 teenage girls that could have landed him behind bars for life.
He instead pleaded guilty to state charges, spent 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and is a registered sex offender.
Acosta, now Donald Trump’s labour secretary, has previously defended the deal as appropriate, but in February the justice department opened an
investigation into the federal prosecutors’ handling of the plea deal.
In May this year, Acosta defended his role dropping a 56-page federal indictment, arguing that his office had in fact been “too aggressive”.
“This matter was appealed all the way up to the deputy attorney general’s office. And not because we weren’t doing enough, but because the contention was that we were too aggressive,” Acosta
told a House Education and Labor Committee hearing.
Epstein, a former hedge fund manager, is well connected politically, and is reported to have
links to Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew.