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MIDLAND AGENCY – Portfolio 2019
Jeffrey Epstein used $46 million charitable donation to keep alive his ties with billionaire Les Wexner
- Accused child molester Jeff Epstein in 2008 essentially bankrolled one of Les Wexner’s first nonprofit foundations with a contribution of more than $40 million in stock and other assets.
- Despite the massive donation, the Wexners tried to distance themselves from Epstein.
- While Wexner appeared to shun Epstein after his first arrest in Florida, many politicians and companies have continued to accept contributions from him or his organizations.
Before hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein went to jail in Florida more than a decade ago, billionaire L Brands founder and Chairman Les Wexner was trying to distance himself from the accused child molester.
That didn’t stop Epstein in 2008 from essentially bankrolling one of Wexner’s first nonprofit foundations with a contribution of more than $40 million in stock and other assets. The transactions were received only months before Epstein was sentenced to a term in a Palm Beach County jail on a charge of soliciting an underage prostitute.
Epstein is back in the news after his arrest Saturday on an indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York which charged him with trafficking dozens of underage girls.
Some of the alleged crimes took place in a New York townhouse once owned by Wexner. He is currently being held without bail. Wexner was known to be one of the money manager’s few clients.
The case has reignited interest in the politically connected businessman who was once friendly with President Donald Trump and President Bill Clinton. And it has prompted some who received money from him to wash their hands of it. On Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., said he would donate $7,000 in contributions from Epstein to charity. Stacey Plaskett, Democratic U.S. Virgin Islands congresswoman, has also decided to give her Epstein contributions to two different charities.
Epstein provided initial financing to Wexner’s YLK Charitable Fund more than 10 years ago, even as Wexner and his wife started to break away from the financier after the initial accusations surfaced, according to someone in their inner circle.
“They are both very prominent in Columbus [Ohio]” the person told CNBC on Wednesday. “It’s just unseemly that they would associate with someone who first was accused of things that made them extremely uncomfortable and then he eventually pleaded guilty to those offenses,” the person said.
When asked about Epstein’s behemoth donations to the foundation before going to jail, this person refused to comment. It is unclear whether the Wexners will give the money away.
Just before Epstein began a 13-month jail term, his firm, the Financial Trust Co., based in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and his own nonprofit, The C.O.U.Q. Foundation, contributed a combined $46 million plus to YLK , according to a 2008 990 disclosure form. Wexner became YLK’s director in 2010 and his wife Abigail was president in 2008.
It was the only contribution the Wexners received that year. In 2009 and 2010, YLK did not receive a single donation.
Flight data from Jeffrey Epstein’s private jets show a lavish travel schedule as the walls closed in
- Before his July 6 arrest, Jeffrey Epstein’s private jets criss-crossed the globe every third day, most often between airports near his properties in the United States and France.
- INSIDER gleaned Epstein’s travel patterns from crowdsourced flight data gathered by avionics enthusiasts, who use special equipment to detect and record data that every aircraft broadcasts during flight
- The same data show several international trips, including to the United Kingdom, Slovakia, and Morocco —sometimes for only a few hours at a time.
Most flights can be tracked in real time by anyone in the world. Epstein, however, has long taken advantage of a little-known federal policy that permits the owners of private jets to conceal their real-time movements from public view. At the same time, every aircraft is required to continually broadcast its unique “tail number,” speed, and current location using a system known as automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, or ADS-B.
Anyone with the appropriate (and relatively inexpensive) equipment can pick up and record ADS-B signals from aircraft passing overhead. Over the last few years, thousands of avionics hobbyists have submitted their data to the website ADSExchange, resulting in detailed maps that show the paths of otherwise blocked aircraft, including both of Epstein’s Gulfstreams. While the site provides the data for free, its owner requests donations from commercial entities that make use of it. INSIDER provided such a donation before publishing this article.
Public records suggest Epstein has owned at least three jets: A Boeing 727, a Gulfstream IV, and a Gulfstream GV-SP. The 727’s tail number, according to flight logs published by Gawker in 2015, is N908JE. That aircraft is registered to a Delaware corporation called JEGE, Inc. ADSExchange contributors haven’t reported any flight activity from that tail number.
The Gulfstreams are a different story. The IV is registered to JEGE, LLC and has the tail number N212JE. The GV-SP is registered to Plan D, LLC and has the tail number N120JE. Both corporations were established in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and share an address with Epstein’s office in St. Thomas. The same address previously appeared on Epstein’s entry in New York’s sexual offender registry address and in filings for at least two of his non-profit concerns, the C.O.U.Q. Foundation and the J. Epstein Virgin Islands Foundation. Furthermore, their flight patterns clearly suggest they were used by someone who splits their time between Epstein’s properties.
Between January 2018 and June 2019, the Gulfstream IV flew 57 flights. During the same period of time, the Gulfstream GV-SP flew 107 flights. That suggests one or both jets were airborne a minimum of 1 out of every 3 days. (Data before 2018 appears to be unavailable.)
Predictably, the bulk were flown between airports near Epstein’s homes in Palm Beach, Manhattan, Paris, and the US Virgin Islands. One of the last recorded flights, a red-eye between Le Bourget Airport near Paris and Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, aligns with reports that Epstein was arrested at Teterboro on July 6 upon his return from France.
Epstein’s Gulfstream jets flew to Slovakia, Mexico, and the United Kingdom — sometimes for only a few hours
The same flight data gathered by ADSExchange places Epstein’s jets in a number of other countries and cities:
- On January 23, 2018, the Gulfstream IV flew from Paris to London, and returned two days later.
- On March 22, 2019, the Gulfstream GV-SP flew from Paris to Bratislava, Slovakia, and returned 5 hours later.
- On March 27, 2019, the Gulfstream GV-SP flew from Paris to Nice, and returned 4 hours later.
- On April 8, 2019, the Gulfstream IV flew from Atlanta to Durango, Mexico, and returned five days later.
- On April 25, 2019, the Gulfstream GV-SP flew from Paris to Rabat, Morocco, and returned 9 hours later.
On Thursday, Epstein’s legal team informed a federal judge that their client currently owns only one jet, having sold his second one in June 2019. That likely explains why the older Gulfstream IV was flyingbetween the US Virgin Islands and Atlanta on the same day of its former owner’s arrest. Epstein intends to put up the newer model as collateral for bail. It was last spotted yesterday, when it flew from New Jersey to an airfield near Savannah, Georgia.
Epstein’s attorney, Reid Weingarten, did not immediately return a request for comment. If you know any more about Epstein’s flying habits, please get in touch.
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