Federal prosecutors issued a formal request to interview Prince Andrew as part of the government’s investigation into accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a person familiar with the matter said.
Prosecutors claimed that the embattled Duke of York failed to respond to earlier Justice Department inquiries.
Lawyers for the prince fired back Monday, claiming that Andrew offered assistance to prosecutors on “at least three occasions this year.”
“Unfortunately, the (Justice Department) has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the duke has offered zero cooperation,” the lawyers said. “In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.”
In their previous discussions with federal prosecutors, the prince’s lawyers said, they were “advised … that the duke is not and has never been a ‘target’ of their
criminal investigations into Epstein and that they sought his confidential, voluntary cooperation.”
The lawyers described Justice’s formal request under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) as “disappointing, since the Duke of York is not a target of the DOJ investigation and has recently repeated his willingness to provide a witness statement.”
The lawyers did not elaborate on the type of assistance the prince offered.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said in January that Andrew stonewalled investigators and that authorities were exploring other options.
Facing allegations that Epstein once forced a 17-year-old girl to have sex with the prince, Andrew announced in November that he was stepping away from his public duties as a royal. The prince and Buckingham Palace cast the allegations as “false and without any foundation.”
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In a statement announcing the change in his public role, the prince said he continued to “unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.”
“I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required,” he said.
Federal authorities continue their investigation into the disgraced financier despite Epstein’s suicide in August in a Manhattan detention center, where he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.
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Andrew’s accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 36, asserted that she was forced by Espstein to have sex with Andrew three times when she was a teen. On those occasions, Giuffre said, she met the prince in New York, the U.S. Virgin Islands and London.
In an interview with the BBC last year, the prince said he had “no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”
Lawyers representing some of Epstein’s other accusers issued statements urging him to fully cooperate with American investigators as they look into Epstein’s alleged trafficking network and his possible associates.
Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to inquiries Monday.
Great Britain’s Home Office declined to comment on whether formal legal assistance had been requested.
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