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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Former AG George Speaks Out

Former Attorney General Denise George. (Source file photo)

Denise George spoke out publicly Monday for the first time since being abruptly fired from her post as the U.S. Virgin Islands attorney general in the final hours of 2022.

George, who had held the job for nearly four years, made international news in late December by suing JPMorgan Chase, alleging the banking giant had facilitated disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking scheme in the territory. Days later, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. ousted George without publicly stating why, only that she was “relieved of her duties.”

The timing did not escape notice from news outlets around the world, including the New York Times in Manhattan, where the suit was filed.

In her written statement Monday, George listed her November settlement with Epstein’s estate as an important achievement during her tenure.

“We worked relentlessly to secure justice and fairness for the many sex trafficking victims of Jeffrey Epstein, including through the victim compensation program that has helped so many people affected by his crimes. We also won the largest financial settlement in the Virgin Islands’ history of more than $105 million dollars, plus a guarantee that 50 percent of the sale of Little St. James will go to the Virgin Islands government,” she said.

George renewed her call for any person or institution associated with Epstein’s crimes to be held accountable.

“That is why I stand firm in my belief that the lawsuit I filed against JPMorgan Chase in our pursuit of justice must continue. No institution, organization or person should be off-limits, no matter how wealthy or powerful. The people are owed justice,” she wrote

George did not respond to requests for further comment Monday about what local entities might be accused of aiding Epstein’s alleged years of sexual assaults on Little St. James, his private island located off St. Thomas.

While the sexual predator had financial dealings with JPMorgan, he was also an Economic Development beneficiary well-known in Virgin Islands’ political circles. His J. Epstein VI Foundation, founded in 2000, had ties to influencers at Government House, Harvard and other mainland universities, political think tanks, England’s Buckingham Palace, and beyond.

Epstein also owned Virgin Islands-linked businesses Southern Trust Company, Inc. and Financial Trust Co. Epstein was 66 when found dead by apparent suicide in August 2019 in his New York jail cell. He had been held on federal human trafficking charges. At the time of his death, his U.S. Virgin Islands estate was valued at more than $577 million, according to court records.

George said her pursuit of Epstein’s estate revealed an abuse of tax breaks meant to spur business in the territory.

“The Epstein anti-criminal enterprise lawsuit brought accountability for their sex trafficking operation of girls and women and Epstein’s fraudulent acquisition of over $80 million dollars in tax benefits from the Virgin Islands. Now those funds can be applied to programs that provide services to assist victims of sexual assault, sex trafficking and child abuse and sexual exploitation in the Virgin Islands, along with other purposes that serve the public good, health and safety,” she wrote.

George called the attorney general job the greatest privilege of her career.

“I have had the honor of leading a talented Department of Justice staff, who have worked with enormous skill, dedication, and integrity every single day of my tenure,” she wrote. “I devoted most of my career to public service as a government lawyer and prosecutor. I am enormously proud of what we have accomplished during my tenure, including successful prosecutions of violent crimes and elderly financial fraud; boosting sex offender registry enforcements to protect public safety; and collecting millions of dollars in consumer protection lawsuits including from the opioid crisis.”

She also seemed to sweep aside the notion that there were sour grapes between her and Bryan.

“I thank Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. for appointing me as the Attorney General, the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for confirming my nomination, and the many people of the Virgin Islands for their encouragement and support. When I first took office in 2019, I made an oath to uphold our laws and administer justice fairly, without fear or favor. Now as I stand at the end of my tenure, my heart is filled with gratitude for having had the honor to uphold that oath and to serve the people of the Virgin Islands.”

George’s statement was released via the Progressive State Leaders Committee, an advocacy group for progressive policies that promote justice, fairness, and equity.

“The Virgin Islands Attorney General, as in everywhere else in the United States, is required to prosecute or pursue legal action for violations of the law, and to serve the people,” she wrote. “We are to administer justice fairly and impartially without political influence or interference. Doing the job of the Attorney General should not be incompatible with holding the job of Attorney General.”

Click here to view the original press release.

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