Richard Roth, Esq –
Tuesday 9th June 2020
In the ongoing criminal investigation of Jeffrey Epstein, the U.S. Department of Justice (”DOJ”) has made a formal request to interview Prince Andrew of the British Royal Family. The request to interview was finalized by federal prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office. Although Epstein took his own life in August 2019, the DOJ has continued to investigate a wide array of people who they believe knew and assisted Epstein in a multi-year sex trafficking operation.
Prince Andrew has been placed under a microscope by the DOJ after one of Epstein’s sex trafficking victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, claimed that she was forced to perform sex acts with Prince Andrew at the request of Epstein. According to Ms. Giuffre, a photograph was taken of her, at the time 17 years of age, and Prince Andrew in Ghislaine Maxwell’s Belgravia home in 2001. Ms. Maxwell, daughter of the billionaire Robert Maxwell, was Epstein’s confidante and girlfriend at the time and is also currently under investigation. Prince Andrew has gone on record saying, “I can tell you categorically I don’t remember meeting her [Giuffre] at all. I do not remember a photograph being taken and I’ve said consistently and frequently that we never had any sort of sexual contact whatever.” Additionally, Prince Andrew has stated that he is more than willing to help any on-going investigation or enforcement effort in connection to Giuffre seeking justice. In reality, he has proved unhelpful in response to the DOJ’s request to interview.
The DOJ requested to interview Prince Andrew by submitting a Mutual Legal Assistance request to the United Kingdom. This request derives from the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom. Its aim is to “improve the effectiveness of the law enforcement authorities of both countries in the investigation, prosecution, and combating of crime through cooperation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.” Under Article 1, “taking the testimony of statements or persons” is an investigatory activity that falls within the provisions of the treaty.
Because of the sensitivity of the issue and the fact that Prince Andrew is a member of the Royal Family, the DOJ is requesting an interview with Prince Andrew and not a deposition. There is no subpoena being presented at this time. Yet, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, if the DOJ issues a subpoena for a deposition, then Prince Andrew will be obligated to comply. Until a subpoena is served for his deposition, Prince Andrew’s interview will only occur if he voluntarily participates in it, which, thus far, he has not indicated he is willing to do.
The sharks are circling around Prince Andrew, particularly after the release of the Netflix documentary series that places him in the middle of the Epstein controversy. The victims and the government, knowing that Epstein can no longer be brought to justice, continue to pursue alleged co-conspirators. Prince Andrew, one of them, is in a pickle. On the one hand, it is in his best interests to allow the DOJ to conduct an interview before they subpoena him for a deposition. On the other, he runs the risk of either invoking the Fifth Amendment or incriminating himself,
However, whether or not he voluntarily submits to an interview, it has become clear that the DOJ will most likely decide to subpoena him at which time he will be legally required to be deposed under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, under penalty of perjury, about his relationship with Epstein and his alleged encounters with Giuffre.
For Prince Andrew, the plot thickens.
Assisted by Samuel Hines