Jeffrey Epstein denied bail in sex trafficking case

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Epstein's multimillion dollar bail offer was rejected by a US judge

US financier Jeffrey Epstein must remain in jail while awaiting his child sex trafficking trial, a federal judge in New York has ruled.

Judge Richard Berman rejected Epstein's request to be under house arrest, saying he posed a flight risk.

His defence team had proposed a multimillion dollar bail package.

The financier has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He once counted Bill Clinton and Donald Trump among his friends.

Epstein, 66, avoided similar charges in a controversial secret plea deal in 2008, and instead pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Last week, US Labour Secretary Alex Acosta resigned amid growing criticism of his role in the plea deal.

Mr Acosta was then the US attorney in Miami and oversaw the non-prosecution deal with Epstein, which allowed the financier to serve 13 months in jail - with much of that time spent on work release at his Palm Beach office.

The deal has come under increasing scrutiny with the new charges against Epstein.

What are the new charges?

Epstein was arrested on 6 July and later charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy.

According to an indictment, the financier paid girls under the age of 18 to perform sex acts at his Manhattan and Florida mansions between 2002 and 2005.

Prosecutors also accuse him of paying large amounts of money to two people who could be potential witnesses during the forthcoming trial.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

If convicted, he faces up to 45 years in prison.

Who is Jeffrey Epstein?

New York-born Epstein worked as a teacher before moving into finance.

Prior to the criminal cases against him, he was best known for his wealth and high-profile connections.

He has long been surrounded by the rich and powerful, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and the UK's Prince Andrew.

In a 2002 profile in New York Magazine, Mr Trump referred to Epstein as a "terrific guy".

"He's a lot of fun to be with," he said. "It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Jeffrey Epstein (left) with Donald Trump at the current president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in 1997

However, Mr Trump has said the pair fell out "12 or 15 years ago" and reiterated on Friday that he was "not a fan of Jeffrey Epstein".

Reports of Epstein's current wealth vary, with his Virgin Islands-based firm generating no public records.

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