By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) – The fund created to compensate victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse is short of cash. The Epstein Victim Compensation Program said Thursday that it will stop offering payments to victims until at least March 25, citing uncertainty about the liquidity of the assets of the disgraced financier’s estate that fund the payments. Jordana Feldman, administrator of the fund, said she regretted the suspension, but that it was necessary to protect the rights of Epstein’s accusers whose claims have not been resolved. “Issuing an offer of compensation that cannot be timely and fully funded and paid, consistent with the way the Program has operated to date, would compromise the interests of claimants and the guiding principles of the program,” Feldman said in a release. Feldman worked for many years in a compensation fund for victims of the September 11, 2001 attack. Epstein’s compensation program has received more than 150 claims since it was created last June and paid more than $ 50 million. Victims have until February 8 to register and March 25 to file claims. Epstein signed his will on August 8, 2019, two days before committing suicide in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Since then, the executors of his estate have been selling assets to pay the victims. Once valued at around $ 630 million, the equity ended December with approximately $ 240 million of assets. According to a statement provided by the executors’ attorneys, the “vast majority” of the remaining assets, including homes, planes and private investments, are illiquid and the coronavirus pandemic has stalled efforts to sell them. He also said the estate has been heavily involved in defending against civil litigation, including “fraudulent” property claims for Epstein’s Palm Beach, Florida home. However, the executors have “full expectation” that the compensation program will soon return to normal, the statement said. The payments began after Denise George, attorney general for the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein also had a home, received assurances that Epstein’s accusers would be treated fairly.
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