Millions of dollars from the late accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s estate were transferred after his death to an international banking entity he had set up in the Virgin Islands years earlier, The New York Times reports. The Virgin Islands reportedly approved a 2014 license for Epstein to set up a specialized bank called Southern Country International that could only do business with offshore clients. Southern Country renewed its license for the first five years, but it is reportedly unclear if it has conducted any business or had customers.
In April 2018, a lawyer for Epstein said the bank had not yet started its operations—but over $12 million from Epstein’s estate was transferred to the bank after his 2019 death. Estate records reportedly show that the bank had $693,157 in assets when Epstein died in August, and received $15.5 million from the estate in December. Southern Country then gave back $2.6 million to the estate, leaving $12.9 million. Two weeks later, according to estate filings cited by the Times, the year-end value of the bank's assets was $499,759. It is unclear what Southern Country did with the money. The estate also told officials that it did not intend to renew the bank's license.
A Virgin Islands judge overseeing motions involving Epstein’s estate said there was “no explanation” for the bank to be receiving estate funds in a Tuesday hearing. A lawyer for the estate said that some of the payments were made in error, but the judge requested he follow-up with the court with provide a more complete accounting of the transfers.