Politics

Prince Andrew refuses to cooperate in Jeffrey Epstein probe, reportedly hires top extradition lawyer

Key Points
  • Prince Andrew has reportedly hired a top extradition lawyer in Britain and is refusing to assist federal prosecutors investigating alleged child sex trafficking by his one-time friend Jeffrey Epstein.
  • U.S Attorney Geoffrey Berman said his office is "now considering our options" in light of the lack of help from the son of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Trump and Clinton, killed himself while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing underage girls in New York and Palm Beach, Florida.
  • He has hired Clare Montgomery, a British lawyer who has been involved in extradition battles involving Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and Indian diamond dealer Nirav Modi.
The Duke of York, in his role as colonel of the Grenadier Guards, at a memorial in Bruges to mark the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of the Belgian town.
Jonathan Brady | PA Images | Getty Images

Prince Andrew has reportedly hired a top extradition lawyer in Britain and is refusing to assist federal prosecutors investigating alleged child sex trafficking by his one-time friend Jeffrey Epstein.

Those prosecutors in New York now are considering their "options" for dealing with Andrew, a top official said Monday.

Andrew, a son of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, claimed in November he was willing to help law-enforcement officials in their investigations of the wealthy investor who killed himself in a federal jail last August while awaiting trial.

But Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters on Monday that the Duke of York has ruled out cooperating with investigators from his office.

"Contrary to Prince Andrew's very public offer to cooperate with our investigation into Epstein's co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation," Berman said at a press conference.

"And our office is considering our options," said Berman.

It is not clear whether Berman would wd be able to force Andrew's cooperation.

On Friday, the Daily Telegraph in Britain reported that Andrew had hired Clare Montgomery, a lawyer whom the newspaper described as "the leading expert on extradition law."

A spokeswoman for Montgomery's law firm, Matrix Chambers, declined to comment on the Telegraph's report when contacted Monday by CNBC.

Montgomery's clients have include Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet in his ultimately successful fight against extradition from Britain on human rights violations charges issed by a Spanish magistrate, as well as fugitive India diamond merchant Nirav Modi in his bid to avoid extradition on fraud and money laundering charges.

And "she has successfully represented a string of prominent Russian citizens who have been the focus of requests from the Russian Federation," according to her biography says on Matrix Chambers's website.

Montgomery also represented the Swedish Judicial Authority in its effort to have WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange extradited from Long to Sweden to face sex assault charges there lodged by two women.

Berman had told reporters in January that "to date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation" to federal law enforcement invesrtigators.

"Jeffrey Epstein couldn't have done what he did without the assistance of others, and I can assure you that the investigation is moving forward," Berman said at the time.

Buckingham Palace has not responded to Berman's comments on Monday.

Berman's office last summer obtained an indictment against Epstein charging the former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton with child sex trafficking.

Epstein, 66, was accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls in New York and in Palm Beach, Florida, from 2002 through 2005. 

After Epstein died, Berman said the investigation into other people who may have abetted Epstein's crimes would continue.

But no one else has been charged.

Months after Epstein's death, Andrew sparked a furor with a disastrous interview with the BBC about his relationship with Epstein.

Andrew, among other things, denied having sex years ago with one of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Giuffre, as she has claimed. He said he was as incapable of sweating, as Giuffre described him doing when they were dancing at a London nightclub.

VIDEO0:5800:58
NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992

Giuffre has said she was directed to have sex with Andrew by Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime Epstein friend who has been accused in court documents of being a procurer of girls to satisfy his compulsive need for sexual services.

In the same interview, Andrew justified his decision to stay at Epstein's house in Manhattan for four days in 2010 during a visit to end their friendship by saying it was "a convenient place to stay."

After widespread backlash to his interview, Andrew announced that he was stepping back from his official public duties "for the foreseeable future."

He also said he was willing to help law-enforcement authorities with investigations of Epstein.

"I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein," Andrew said in a statement in November after the interview.

"His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure," the prince said.

"I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."