The Ghislaine Maxwell puzzle

There is one thing that puzzles me over the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s one-time lover and later friend, business associate, and allegedly the chief procurer and groomer of underage girls to have sex with Epstein and his friends, and that why she stayed in the US at all. She was arrested in a secluded mansion that she owns in New Hampshire and is being held without bond in that town pending her transfer to New York City where the charges were brought against her.

Maxwell is very wealthy and had in her possession passports from the US, UK, and France, as well money stashed all over the place in multiple bank accounts.

Maxwell, who was born in France, also has citizenship in the UK and US. She appears to hold passports for these three countries, federal prosecutors wrote.

Maxwell also has the money to flee if let out on bail, they maintained.

Federal prosecutors said that there are “more than 15 different bank accounts held by or associated with [Maxwell] from 2016 to the present, and during that same period, the total balances of those accounts have ranged from a total of hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $20m”. During this time, Maxwell would transfer “hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time” between these accounts.

At some point, Maxwell disclosed that as recently as last year, she has one or more foreign bank accounts, with more than $1m.

The prosecution also maintains that from 2007 to 2011, around more than $20m was moved from accounts linked to Epstein, to accounts linked to Maxwell. Some of these transfers were “in the millions of dollars” and “were then subsequently transferred back to accounts associated with Epstein”.

The prosecutors argue that Maxwell’s wealth and behavior meant that she represented a serious flight risk.

She was born in France and holds French citizenship. France does not extradite its own citizens so if she had gone there she would have been safe from US authorities. The idea that she could escape arrest by hiding in the US is preposterous and surely her lawyers could have told her that. Even if you go completely off the grid like Ted Kaczynski and hide in the woods and live off the land with little contact with the outside world, the FBI will eventually be able to find you.

In the case of Epstein, the New York prosecutors kept their investigation of him totally secret because he too was very wealthy and had multiple passports (including fake ones) and even his own island. He must have been totally unsuspecting until they grabbed him just as he landed in a New Jersey airport in his private place after being overseas. The secrecy would have been necessary because when he had been investigated over a decade earlier in Florida by the local police, when they raided his home they found that the computers and other possible incriminating evidence had been removed, suggesting that he had been tipped off about the raid. Epstein used to boast that he could not be touched because he had very powerful connections and presumably thought that he would be informed if he was being investigated, so his arrest on the tarmac must have come as a shock.

But Maxwell knew that she was being investigated because the NY prosecutors said that they were continuing the case even after Epstein’s death. So why did she not flee to France? After all, jails and prisons in the US are awful places that no one wants to end up in and someone who has lived a life of luxury and has the means would surely make every effort to avoid ending up in one of them. Did she also think that she had powerful friends who would protect her?

All the celebrities who hobnobbed with Epstein must be very worried about what Maxwell might tell investigators because she would know pretty much everything about Epstein’s affairs. Remember that Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleged that she was asked to have sex with Prince Andrew three times, including once in Maxwell’s London home, and there is a photograph of the three of them smiling for the camera on that occasion, with Andrew having his arm around Giuffre’s waist.

Maxwell is supposed to know about most of Prince Andrew’s alleged dealings with Epstein’s sex slaves. She’s in the background of the infamous photo of the resigned senior royal with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, Epstein’s most vocal victim. But the prince is far from the only person to fear Maxwell’s capture. Giuffre claims that Maxwell’s onetime best friend, Naomi Campbell, knew of her abuse. If Alan Dershowitz abused Giuffre, as she has claimed (Dershowitz denies it), Maxwell would likely know.

Perhaps even more important, though, is whatever Maxwell knows about how Epstein and his associates skirted justice for so long. According to prosecutors, the heiress of publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell has 15 bank accounts with millions of dollars, passports from three countries, and a global network of elite connections willing to help her out of fear as much as friendship.

And now, she has every reason to tell her secrets. Here is a chance for justice that many have spent decades waiting for.

Another puzzle is one that was pointed out by commenter Pierce R. Butler and that is that the unit that is handling this case and the earlier Epstein one is not the sex crimes unit but the Public Corruption Unit that is usually brought in only when some public or elected official is involved, and that could spell trouble for someone.

During a press conference, Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss noted that the SDNY’s Public Corruption Unit would—like the Epstein case before—be tasked with overseeing the prosecution.

“I worked at SDNY and did sex trafficking cases,” noted former federal and state prosecutor and current CNN legal analyst Elie Honig via Twitter. “They do NOT run out of Public Corruption – unless there is some potential angle against a public official.”

“A case like this ordinarily would not be staffed out of Public Corruption,” Honig told Law&Crime. “It would ordinarily be staffed out of what’s now known as the Violent and Organized Crime Unit.”

The Violent and Organized Crime Unit is where the SDNY’s human and sex trafficking coordinators are located.

“The fact that it is staffed out of Public Corruption tells me that a public official–past or present–is involved in at least some capacity,” Honig continued. “Could mean a potential target, witness, or a potential co-conspirator. It could mean a lot of different things.”

The utterly contemptible way that Maxwell treated these young women is captured in this vignette.

Maxwell’s favorite game, Giuffre said, was to place a young girl in front of a powerful older man and say: “How old do you think she is?”

The brazenness with which Epstein and Maxwell treated these girls makes it hard to believe the claims of all their celebrity friends that they had no idea that an underage sex trafficking scheme was going on all around them.

There have been suspicions raised (without much evidence) that Epstein did not die in jail by suicide as the authorities reported but was murdered to stop him talking. The authorities had better make absolutely certain that nothing similar happens to Maxwell since there is a lot too that she can talk about.


  1. says

    I think a lot of the time, people like Maxwell are just so used to getting away with it, that they figure they’ll be OK if they just lie low for a while. Lazy predator.

  2. Owlmirror says

    There are more mysteries than that here.

    Epstein was arrested for sex trafficking. That is usually something one does with accomplices; indeed, a network of accomplices. But Maxwell was known to have been Epstein’s probable accomplice for years. So why wasn’t she arrested when Epstein was?

    Why was there such a long delay between Epstein’s arrest, and hers?

    And a thought about why she might not have run: For public transport, she might well be on watchlists and no-fly lists. For private transport: All of the people who had an incentive to help her flee might well have also had an incentive to make her disappear forever, if you take my meaning.

  3. says

    Having a passport doesn’t guarantee freedom to travel. Passports and names can be flagged, so she may have been paranoid about being picked up at the airport or even the Canadian or Mexican borders. That’s even taking charter flights into consideration.

    I suspect banking systems don’t monitor the wealthy the way they monitor the poor. (“Why harass your own class and status?”) With access to money, she likely could have hid as long as she wanted. As noted, those who arrested her were working a corruption case, the one place where the wealthy have a hard time evading consequences.

  4. jrkrideau says

    If she could get out of the country I would have thought France would be a refuge but if there is evidence of offences in France or in French territories in the Caribbean, she may have felt she had better protection/influence in the USA.

    I don,t know if anyone noticed but former French Prime Minister François Fillon just got a 5 year sentence for corruption.

    If Maxwell did not have iron-clad protection in France, French prosecutors might have been happy for a nice high-profile case.

  5. blf says

    Just to explain @5’s “France would be a refuge”: She was born in France and carries a French passport, and France does not have an extradition treaty with the States. This is one reason self-admitted convicted child rapist and fugitive Roman Polański has been able to stay in France without concern.

  6. Mano Singham says

    Owlmirror @#3,

    Prosecutors don’t always charge everyone at the same time. They often charge one person, put the squeeze on them to reveal information by threatening them with massive prison sentences, and then use that information to use as evidence against others. Since Epstein was the key perpetrator, it makes sense to go after him first.

    Intransitive @#4,

    It is true what you say that passports don’t always guarantee the freedom to travel. She may have been on a no-fly list. But given that she had multiple passports, you would think that she could have at least tried going over a land border to Canada using her UK passport, and then flown to France using her French passport.

    jrkrideau @#5,

    As far as I know, she did not commit any of her offenses in France or any territory over which France has legal jurisdiction. Hence I do think she would or could be prosecuted in that country. She would have to be extradited to the US. This is, as blf @#6 says, the problem with Roman Polanski who has avoided being tried for his sex crimes by avoiding extradition to the US.

    Marcus @#1 has the simplest explanation and often those turn out to be the right ones. We’ll see.

  7. brucegee1962 says

    It might have not been paranoia. She was probably being closely watched — a bug on her car, all that jazz. She might have even been warned by the FBI “Enjoy your freedom while it lasts — but if you visit an airport, it’s going to last a lot shorter.”

  8. consciousness razor says

    She was being sued in a civil case (for sexual assault) by Annie Farmer. Back in May, her argument for delaying it was that her testimony could incriminate her in the criminal investigation.

    Going to some remote place in NH to hide from the public (and the press) shouldn’t be confused with hiding from law enforcement (as well as the federal judge for the civil case). She was doing the former and not the latter.

    I’m guessing she was hoping to make some kind of a deal. They might consider something like that, if she can give them useful information about tons of other people who were involved. There was already plenty of evidence that many current/former public officials were implicated, so the whole “Public Corruption Unit” thing should have come as no surprise.

  9. jrkrideau says

    @ 7 mano
    As far as I know, she did not commit any of her offenses in France or any territory over which France has legal jurisdiction. it is just that the Caribean for the rich

    Pure blue sky speculation on my part. I was just noticing that the Riviera is a popular hangout for the ultra-rich and that Guadeloupe and Martinique are rather close to the US Virgin Islands.

    And of course “As far as I know” is limited to US oriented media AFAIK, which is notoriously provincial.

  10. Matt G says

    According to Politico, she did not seek a bail hearing in NH, but has not ruled that out once she is transferred to NY.

  11. publicola says

    Wouldn’t it be something if the aforementioned public official was Giuliani, or even Trump!? (One can fantasize, no?) Can’t wait ’til they publish the “little black book”. Watch out for falling bodies.

  12. lorn says

    A lot depends on what she wants to do.

    Epstein resisted going states-evidence and being brought into witness protection. Perhaps it was suicide, or not. No matter. His one real shot was the same as the lady is facing. Do you cooperate and hope the US marshal service protects you or do you hope your criminal protections see getting you off and making sure you don’t do hard time as easier, cheaper, and safer than killing you.

    I doubt Epstein, a hothouse flower and aesthete, thought he would ever spend more than a few hours in jail. Did the realization he would have to spend months in prison, even if he ultimately was set free, get Epstein down and cause him to off himself? Or was he helped along? We may never know. IMHO it doesn’t matter.

    If Ghislaine Maxwell (59) is smart she goes states evidence with an understanding that once she starts singing she never sees the inside of a prison. Living out her remaining days on a remote island in Alaska, modified house arrest, might be the preferred end for her. Given her financial resources she could finance the whole thing for another fifty years. Once she testifies and implicates her list of VIPs it isn’t like she would enjoy socializing. She will stay safe only by staying off everyone’s RADAR.

  13. Matt G says

    From The Guardian:

    [Friend Laura] Goldman said she last spoke to Maxwell “a couple of weeks ago”, adding: “She knew she was coming to the end of the road.” Maxwell, she said, was a victim of Epstein and was always “a little afraid” of him.

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