Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
While Jeffrey Epstein has widely been reported to be a billionaire, this reputation appears to be a myth, according to a detailed New York Times report published Wednesday night. The story also revealed that Epstein has been a client of Deutsche Bank, the embattled institution facing waves of controversy in recent months and years.
Epstein has come under new scrutiny after being indicted last weekend by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York on sex trafficking charges. The case revives accusations that were put to bed by a controversial non-prosecution agreement overseen in 2008 by now-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who was then a U.S. attorney. Epstein’s case has also drawn public interest because of his many ties to prominent politicians and public figures, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
The new Times report casts doubt on the idea that Epstein is a prodigious financial wizard — or even a member of the superrich in American society. One of the most eye-popping rumors about Epstein, for instance, has been that he was so elite that he refused to manage investments from people that were under $1 billion.
“Much of that appears to be an illusion, and there is little evidence that Mr. Epstein is a billionaire,” the Times reported.
Mr. Epstein’s wealth may have depended less on his math acumen than his connections to two men — Steven J. Hoffenberg, a onetime owner of The New York Post and a notorious fraudster later convicted of running a $460 million Ponzi scheme, and Leslie H. Wexner, the billionaire founder of retail chains including The Limited and the chief executive of the company that owns Victoria’s Secret.
“His real estate alone — one of Manhattan’s largest private mansions, a Palm Beach estate, a Paris apartment, his own Caribbean island and a huge New Mexico ranch — is worth more than $200 million. His investment firm reported having $88 million in capital from its shareholders in 2002,” the Times reported.
The other curious fact uncovered in the story is Epstein’s connection to Deutsche Bank, an institution that has frequently popped up in reporting about Trump’s questionable financial history. The bank has also come under fire for its own shady practices, and it has been caught in a Russian money laundering scheme.
According to the Times, Epstein became a client of the bank’s private banking division in recent years, though it’s unclear how much his accounts were worth. Officials in the bank were reportedly worried about the possible reputation damage Epstein could bring — he remains a registered sex offender — but these concerns were overruled. But the bank recently ended its relationship with Epstein, the report found.
IMAGE: Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse, valued by the federal government at $77 million.