US investigators have found an expired Saudi Arabia passport and a “pile of cash” when they raided the house of an accused child sex trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein, whom they say now poses an “extraordinary risk of flight” and must be kept locked up until his trial.
The American financier and a former friend of President Donald Trump, who has been charged with sex trafficking underage girls, kept containing cash, diamonds and the Saudi passport in a “locked safe” in his Manhattan mansion, investigators said Monday.
According to assistant US Attorney Alex Rossmiller, the fake passport that was obtained from a “foreign” government in the 1980s, listed Epstein’s country of residence as “Saudi Arabia.”
The assets were revealed during a bail hearing on Monday and prompted Judge Richard Berman to order Epstein to remain in prison at the Manhattan Correctional Centre until a bail hearing scheduled for Thursday.
Judge Berman said he would issue a decision Thursday.
Epstein legal team pleaded with the judge to let the billionaire out of jail, saying, “We need him released, judge. This is an enormously challenging case for defence counsel.”
Prosecutors, however, argued that “it’s underage girls that are involved in this case, and it’s underage girls that are the victims.”
A prosecutor said that the case against Epstein is “already significantly stronger and getting stronger every single day.”
The 66-year-old Epstein, who was arrested early in July, faces up to 45 years in jail if convicted of sex trafficking.
The revelation, most especially the passport, sparked fear among many of those who were attending the courtroom that Epstein had had possible plans to flee to Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom became a safe haven for former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali when he was ousted in 2011 in a popular uprising against his dictatorial rule.
The ousted president, who has since been living in Riyadh with his family, faces a range of charges in his home country. Several Tunisian courts have sentenced Ben Ali to life on a string of charges including theft and inciting violence.
The North African country has officially asked Riaydh to extradite him, but the kingdom has not responded to the request.