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Prince Andrew accused of 'zero cooperation' in Epstein case

Peter HUTCHISON
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Prince Andrew has strenuously denied claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein

Prince Andrew has strenuously denied claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein (AFP Photo/Lindsey Parnaby)

New York (AFP) - Prince Andrew has given "zero cooperation" to the FBI in its investigation into late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, despite publicly offering his assistance, a US prosecutor said Monday.

The British royal denies claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by Epstein and said in November he was "willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."

But New York attorney Geoffrey Berman, who is leading an investigation into possible co-conspirators of the disgraced US financier, said Andrew was yet to respond to a request by the FBI and his office for an interview.

"To date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation," Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters.

Berman gave the comments during a news conference outside Epstein's former Manhattan mansion, which Andrew has admitted staying at.

He said he would not normally comment on whether individuals were cooperating but made an exception for the prince because of his statement offering help.

"It's fair for people to know whether Prince Andrew has followed through with that public commitment," said Berman.

Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Queen Elizabeth II's second son stepped back from frontline royal duties after he faced outrage over an interview with the BBC late last year in which he defended his friendship with Epstein.

Andrew, 59, also denied having sexual relations with Virginia Giuffre, who alleges she was trafficked to have sex with friends of Epstein when she was 17.

Epstein, 66, killed himself in a New York jail in August while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

He was a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager who befriended countless celebrities over the years, including US President Donald Trump.

Epstein was charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and another of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

He denied the charges but was facing up to 45 years in jail if found guilty.

- 'Ill-judged association' -

Determined to obtain justice despite his death, dozens of women who say they were abused by Epstein have sued his estate and prosecutors have pledged to pursue any accomplices.

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

Giuffre says she had sex with the prince at the central London home of Epstein's socialite girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell in 2001.

In what proved to be a disastrous BBC interview, Andrew said he did not remember meeting Giuffre and that he "absolutely and categorically" did not have sex with her.

Afterwards he issued a statement in which he said "I... unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein."

While Epstein's death has been ruled a suicide -- with two prison guards charged for alleged failure to monitor him -- it has also fueled conspiracy theories, mostly speculating he was murdered to stop him revealing compromising information about wealthy acquaintances.

Several of Epstein's accusers have said Maxwell recruited them to provide sexual favors for Epstein and some of his associates.

Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages but served just 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal struck with the then state prosecutor.

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