French prosecutors are looking into Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to the country following a request from two government ministers and a child protection NGO.
The disgraced financier, who died of suspected suicide, owned an apartment in Paris and was returning from the country when he was arrested in the U.S.
Their office is conducting a preliminary investigation to determine if it will formally open a case, Paris prosecutors said. The decision comes after France’s gender equality minister, Marlène Schiappa, and child welfare minister, Adrien Taquet, issued a joint request Monday, and the NGO Innocence in Danger submitted a formal letter.
“The American investigation has highlighted ties with France. It therefore seems fundamental to us, and for the victims, that an investigation should be opened in France so that all the light is shed on this matter,” the two said in a statement. “We would like to use this occasion to highlight again our utmost determination to protect young girls from sexual violence and especially from being exploited by criminal networks, and this should result in new measures being announced during the final quarter of this year. Epstein’s death must not deny his victims the justice they are entitled to.”
While the request from ministers is unusual due to the separation of the legislative and judicial branches, Innocence in Danger submitted a formal letter to the prosecutor’s office. The group said it has referred at least one known victim of Epstein in France.
Documents last week revealed testimony from one of Epstein’s victims that she was transported across borders as a “sex slave,” including frequent trips to France. The victim also said she witnessed other girls, some as young as 12, being abused in the French capital.
French media reported that several prominent French businessmen and aristocrats were found in Epstein’s contact book along with lists of girls’ names under the heading “Paris Massages.” The head of one of the country’s biggest modeling agencies was a well-known associate of Epstein’s and was alleged to have supplied Epstein with girls in a separate 2015 civil lawsuit in Florida.
Epstein owned an apartment in the tony 16th district of the city in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe. He was returning from France when he was arrested at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport on July 6.