Fresh probe against Harvey Weinstein

Federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into Harvey Weinstein.Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer says federal US prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the film producer, in addition to a previously disclosed probe by the Manhattan District Attorney.

Attorney Benjamin Brafman said in a declaration filed on May 3 in the Weinstein Co’s bankruptcy proceedings that he had been advised Weinstein was a “principal target” of an investigation being conducted by the US attorney’s office in Manhattan.

“I am trying my very best to persuade both the federal and state prosecutors that he should not be arrested and or indicted, because he did not knowingly violate the law,” Brafman wrote.

He said the allegations that Weinstein forced himself on women were “entirely without merit.”

Scores of women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct ranging from inappropriate comments to rape.

Weinstein is under criminal investigation in Manhattan, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and London. He has not been charged with any crimes, though police in New York have said publicly that they believe there is enough evidence to make an arrest.

Two law enforcement officials confirmed that Weinstein has been under federal investigation. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sex crimes, aside from child pornography cases, are usually handled by local prosecutors under state law, but federal charges can be brought under certain circumstances if a person brings a victim across state lines for the purpose of a sexual assault or the attack happens on federal lands.

In the bankruptcy case, Brafman sought access to emails and correspondence under the control of the Weinstein Co. to help him in his defence efforts.

A Delaware bankruptcy judge approved a private equity firm’s purchase of the Weinstein Co. Dallas-based Lantern Capital offered to pay $US310 million in cash for the Weinstein Co.’s assets and to assume $US127 million in project-related debt. It also agreed to cover obligations related to the assumption of certain contracts and leases.

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