Wealthy US financier Jeffrey Epstein facing sex trafficking charges

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Jeffrey Epstein, centre, in custody in West Palm Beach (Uma Sanghvi/Palm Beach Post/AP)

US Federal prosecutors have announced sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Court documents unsealed on Monday show Epstein is charged with creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls.

The alleged victims were as young as 14 at the time.

Financier Teenage Girls
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman (Richard Drew/AP)

Epstein was taken into custody on Saturday.

Authorities say he paid underage girls for massages and then assaulted them at his homes in Florida and New York in the early 2000s.

Prosecutors later said that federal agents investigating Epstein found “nude photographs of what appeared to be underage girls” while searching his Manhattan mansion.

US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said at a press conference agents discovered the photos while executing a search warrant following Epstein’s arrest.

Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after his private jet landed from Paris.

Mr Berman said prosecutors will ask that he remain jailed pending trial, arguing he is a flight risk.