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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeCommentaryOpen Forum: The USVI Aided and Abetted Jeffrey Epstein

Open Forum: The USVI Aided and Abetted Jeffrey Epstein

In response to the Attorney General’s Office filing suit against JPMorgan in connection with the estate of Jeffrey Epstein, lawyers for the financial institution noted this in their response:

Janelle K. Sarauw, former senator and candidate for lieutenant governor. (Source file photo)

“Indeed, as a law-enforcement agency, USVI had access to much more, along with the investigative advantage of physical proximity to Epstein’s crimes. USVI did nothing to stop Epstein during this period, notwithstanding the fact that he registered with the USVI as a Tier 1 sex offender. To the contrary, during the same period, USVI granted Epstein and his businesses lucrative privileges and massive tax incentives.”

I couldn’t agree more! Our government is filing claims against this financial institution while turning a blind eye to the local people who benefited from Mr. Epstein. Let us put a few facts on the table: The chair of the Economic Development Authority (EDA) must sign off on all benefit documents. Who was the chair of the EDA at that time? Our present governor was. After the chair signs the benefit document, it is forwarded to the governor for his signature. Who was the governor? Gov. John P. de Jongh Jr. Who was the EDC beneficiary? Southern Trust Co. owned by Mr. Epstein. And, who managed said company? The former first lady, Mrs. Cecile de Jongh.

If we are to dive deeper, there appears to be a conflict of interest. How could a governor, whose wife managed the operations of Southern Trust Co., sign the benefit document without that being a conflict of interest? By Gov. de Jongh signing such, it gives the appearance that he enriched himself.

Epstein contributed to the political campaigns of various senatorial, gubernatorial, and congressional candidates within the local Democratic Party. His attorney and local base in the Virgin Islands were the ones holding major fundraisers for the incumbent. Unequivocally, a political culture was fostered within the local Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands that allowed Epstein to remain unchecked in exchange for his sponsorship and financial contributions.

We must be honest about this discussion. For these reasons, many are suspect of the reason Gov. Bryan truly fired his Attorney General, especially since in a recent interview, he essentially sidestepped the issue when asked, noting: “And I just want to get us away from that. That’s not the light we want to be seen. If we never mention Jeffrey Epstein again, it would be good for me.”

Within our local political arena, we have turned a blind eye to Epstein because we, too, benefited from his sex-trafficking enterprise. To put it bluntly, the Virgin Islands of the United States aided and abetted Jeffrey Epstein. That’s without question. But I don’t think we are ready to have that conversation.

— Janelle Sarauw, St. Thomas, is a former educator, senator and candidate for lieutenant governor.

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