Duchess had sex offender pay part of debts
Published 07/03/2011 | 05:00
A CONVICTED paedophile helped the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson avoid bankruptcy by paying off part of her £5m (€5.8m) debts after an intervention from the Duke of York.
Jeffrey Epstein gave £15,000 (€17,500) to the duchess's former personal assistant, Johnny O'Sullivan, after the duke allegedly made a personal appeal to him to help his former wife with her financial troubles.
A source who was involved in negotiations around the duchess's finances said the duke was "sorting the offer" of financial help from Mr Epstein when the two men were photographed together in New York's Central Park last December.
The duchess's spokesman confirmed last night that Mr Epstein, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail for child sex offences in 2008, paid off part of the £78,000 (€91,000) the duchess owed Mr O'Sullivan in a "private arrangement" between the two men.
The money is understood to have changed hands at around the time the duke met Mr Epstein.
Buckingham Palace has refused comment on the allegation that the duke discussed the duchess's finances during their meeting last year and said the matter was to do with the duchess's finances and not the duke's.
The disclosure will pile further pressure on the duke to stand down as Britain's trade ambassador, regardless of the British government's decision to downgrade his role.
The duchess owed a total of £5m last year when the duke engaged the accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers to put together an offer to her creditors to stave off bankruptcy.
The creditors were reportedly offered 25pc of what they were owed, but the settlement could only go through if all of them agreed to it.
Mr O'Sullivan, who was owed £78,000, turned down the offer, and the duchess allegedly turned to Mr Epstein in the hope that he would pay Mr O'Sullivan the balance of the money above the 25pc on offer so the settlement with creditors could be finalised. (© Daily Telegraph, London)