Jeffrey Epstein ‘signed will two days before death’

Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry in 2017Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Epstein’s more than $577m in assets were put into a trust, according to reports

Jeffrey Epstein signed a will two days before killing himself in his New York jail cell, US media reports say.

Court papers filed last week in the US Virgin Islands valued Epstein’s estate at more than $577 million (£475m) but listed no details of beneficiaries, the Associated Press reported.

The will, details of which were first reported by the New York Post, directs Epstein’s assets to be put into trust.

Epstein died while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

The New York medical examiner found that the 66-year-old, whose body was discovered on 10 August, died of “suicide by hanging”.

Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and was being held without bail. He faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

The former financier put all of his holdings into a trust called The 1953 Trust, according to a copy of the will published by the New York Post. He signed the document on 8 August.

No details of any beneficiaries are included in the document, which lists assets including more than $56m in cash, more than $14m in fixed income investments and more than $18m in “aviation assets, automobiles and boats”.

Epstein’s collection of fine arts, antiques and other valuables is yet to be appraised, the document says.

Some of Epstein’s alleged victims have said they will go after his assets for damages following his death.

Reports about Epstein’s will came as US Attorney General William Barr announced a major leadership shake-up at the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The acting chief, Hugh Hurwitz, was removed and former BOP director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer named as his replacement.

“Under Dr. Hawk Sawyer’s previous tenure at the Bureau, she led the agency with excellence, innovation, and efficiency, receiving numerous awards for her outstanding leadership,” Mr Barr said in a statement.

He also named former agency official Thomas Kane as her deputy.

Who was Jeffrey Epstein?

New York-born Epstein worked as a teacher before moving into finance. Prior to the criminal cases against him, he was best known for his wealth and high-profile connections.

He was often seen socialising with the rich and powerful, including US President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and the UK’s Prince Andrew.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionFootage appears to show Prince Andrew inside Jeffery Epstein’s New York residence in 2010

In a 2002 profile in New York Magazine, Mr Trump referred to Epstein as a “terrific guy”. But in comments this year, Mr Trump said the pair had fallen out “12 or 15 years ago” and that he was “not a fan of Jeffrey Epstein”.

What was Epstein charged with?

Epstein was accused of paying girls under the age of 18 to perform sex acts at his Manhattan and Florida mansions between 2002 and 2005.

He was arrested on 6 July after landing in New Jersey on his private jet. He avoided similar charges in a controversial secret plea deal in 2008, and instead pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

That plea deal was closely scrutinised in recent weeks and, last month, US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned over his role in it.

Prosecutors also accused Epstein of paying large amounts of money to two potential witnesses ahead of his trial, which was scheduled to take place next year.

Read the full article at: bbc.com