Jeffrey Epstein, the well-connected financier indicted on child sex trafficking charges, may have had much less money than was reported and, much like President Trump, relied on Deutsche Bank for financing even though his transactions were flagged by concerned bank officials.
According to The New York Times, Epstein was frequently described as a “billionaire” in reports going back decades and was well-connected, with people like Trump and then-President Bill Clinton among his friends. But in reality, his wealth appears to be more folklore than reality and, while certainly rich, it’s entirely unclear how he made much of his money.
Epstein worked briefly at Bear Stearns before setting up his own advisory firm in 1981. Years later, he partnered with Steven Hoffenberg, a one-time owner of the New York Post who was later convicted of running a $460 million Ponzi scheme. The two tried to become “corporate raised” but their two biggest efforts were “spectacular failures,” The Times reported.
During this time, Epstein found a benefactor: Les Wexner, a billionaire fashion mogul. Epstein founded a new firm and later claimed that he only accepted clients who invested $1 billion or more. Epstein had some clients, like Johnson & Johnson heiress Elizabeth Johnson, but a corporate disclosure form from 2002 shows that his firm had just $88 million in contributions from shareholders and a court filing showed that he had about 20 employees, far fewer than the 150 that had been reported.
When the 2007-08 financial crisis hit, Epstein lost big on $18 million in shares of Bear Stearns and another $50 million in one of the company’s hedgefunds.
As the crisis hit, Epstein was charged with child sex abuse and later pleaded guilty to just two state prostitution charges but lost many of his clients and friends.
Epstein relied on Deutsche Bank for funds:
Epstein was certainly rich. His property holdings alone, which include a private mansion in Manhattan, a Palm Beach estate, an apartment in Paris, and his own Caribbean island, are worth more than $200 million.
It’s unclear how much wealth remains more than a decade after the first charges. According to The Times, Epstein relied on Deutsche Bank in recent years, the same bank that Trump relied on after no other major bank would loan him money following a string of bankruptcies and continued to do business with him after officials raised concerns over his “suspicious” transactions.
According to the Times, the bank had a similar relationship with Epstein.
“At one point, compliance officers at Deutsche Bank raised concerns about transactions by Mr. Epstein’s company, because he posed reputational risk to the bank,” the report said. “Deutsche Bank managers overruled their concerns, the people said. They noted that there was nothing illegal about the transactions and that Mr. Epstein was a lucrative client. Earlier this year, the bank ended its relationship with Mr. Epstein.”