American financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was jailed pending trial on federal sex trafficking charges, has killed himself in a NY jail, according to officials quoted by several United States media outlets.
Attorney General William Barr said he was "appalled" by the news. In October, Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger was killed in a federal prison in West Virginia where had just been transferred.
Epstein, a self-described "collector" of rich and powerful people, had links to a Who's Who of prominent political and business figures.
The Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal facility in Manhattan that often houses suspects awaiting or during trial, is considered one of the most secure penal establishments in the US.
The 66-year-old, who was being held without bail in a Manhattan jail, was accused of abusing dozens of underage girls at his homes in Manhattan and Florida between 2002 and 2005. The U.S. accused Epstein of "creating a vast network of victims".
Epstein, who pleaded not guilty, was arrested on July 6 for alleged sex trafficking of minor girls through his Upper East Side mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. In 2008, Epstein had pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges in Florida.
That plea deal was closely scrutinised in recent weeks and, last month, US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned over his role in it.
Lawyers said that victims may pursue civil lawsuits against the estate of Epstein, a process that could take years and run up against laws barring claims that are too old.
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In a rare statement when news that the documents would be unsealed broke, the Palace released a statement which said: "It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts [Giuffre]".
Annie Farmer (left) and Courtney Wild both claim to have been molested by Epstein as teenagers.
Aja Davis, a spokeswoman for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, said she could not say how Epstein died before her office examined the body.
While teaching at the school, Epstein became acquainted with Alan Greenberg, the chief executive officer of Bear Stearns, whose son and daughter were going to the school, and who offered him a job as a low-level junior assistant to a floor trader in 1976. In a swift rise, trading options, he made partner four years later, with former Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Cayne praising his skills.
But he later said the pair fell out "12 or 15 years ago" and reiterated last month that he was "not a fan of Jeffrey Epstein".
Much of its operations remain unclear.
One of those clients was Leslie Wexner, chairman and CEO of L Brands and Victoria's Secret.
"While we engaged in contentious legal battles for more than a decade, this is not the ending anyone was looking for", he said in a statement.