British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has appeared in court in the United States accused of facilitating long-time associate Jeffrey Epstein's sexual exploitation of underage girls.

Ms Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire and accused of helping the disgraced financier "identify, befriend and groom" multiple girls, including one as young as 14.

At a brief hearing, a magistrate judge ordered the 58-year-old to remain in custody while she is transferred to New York for a detention hearing there.

Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of late media mogul Robert Maxwell, is accused of facilitating 66-year-old Epstein's abuse by identifying and grooming underage girls.

She has previously denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of sexual misconduct by Epstein - her former boyfriend - who took his own life in prison last year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He had pleaded not guilty.

Announcing the charges, Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York, claimed that Ms Maxwell had helped Epstein to exploit underage girls and "in some cases" would participate in the abuse herself.

"Maxwell was among Epstein's closest associates and helped him exploit girls who were as young as 14 years old," she told reporters.

"Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse."

Four of the six charges cover Ms Maxwell's dealings with Epstein from 1994 to 1997, when she was in an "intimate relationship" with him, according to the indictment.

Authorities claim that Ms Maxwell, who is also charged with two counts of perjury, lied when being questioned under oath in 2016.

Several of his accusers have said Ms Maxwell maintained a network of girls to perform sexual favours for Epstein, a registered sex offender who mixed socially with the rich and famous.