U.S. prosecutors have accused Prince Andrew of failing to co-operate with multiple requests they made to interview him about his contacts with the late financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died last August in a New York City federal prison.
The Manhattan-based federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, said Monday that Andrew had “yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to cooperate” with the sex trafficking investigation.
Andrew “has not given an interview to federal authorities, has repeatedly declined our request to schedule such an interview, and nearly four months ago informed us unequivocally … that he would not come in for such an interview,” Berman said.
Berman’s office issued his statement in the wake of a report by Britain’s Sun newspaper, confirmed to Reuters by a U.S. law enforcement official, that U.S. authorities investigating Epstein’s life and death had sent the British government a formal request, known as a mutual legal assistance treaty submission, asking for access to the prince.
Andrew has publicly stated he will co-operate with any “appropriate law enforcement agency.”
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Monday there were no plans to extradite Andrew. In a statement earlier on Monday, Andrew’s lawyers said the prince had offered his help to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) three times this year.
U.S. investigators want to interview Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, about his friendship with Epstein — who was awaiting charges of trafficking minors — as part of their inquiry into possible co-conspirators.
Earlier Monday, lawyers for Andrew hit back at claims the royal was not co-operating with U.S. prosecutors investigating Epstein, and suggested the justice officials were seeking publicity rather than Andrew’s help.
“The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ,” Andrew’s lawyers, Blackfords, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the duke has offered zero co-operation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered,” the statement said.
A U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation probe is focusing on British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime associate of Epstein’s, and others who facilitated the wealthy financier’s alleged trafficking of underage girls, law enforcement sources told Reuters in December.
Ghislaine, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, has denied the allegations against her.
Andrew, 60, said in a public statement in November that he was stepping down from public duties because of the furor over his links to Epstein and would be willing to help “any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
In March, Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said that despite the British royal publicly stating he would co-operate with the inquiry, the prince had “shut the door on voluntary co-operation, and our office is considering its options.”
Virginia Giuffre, an American woman, alleges that she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell in 2001, when she was 17, to have sex with the prince, an encounter she says took place. Andrew “categorically” denied the claim in a BBC interview late last year and said he had “no recollection” of ever meeting Giuffre.