(JTA) — Sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2014 bankrolled a large investment in high tech for Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister who’s again running for office, Haaretz reported.
The report Friday follows several revelations on financial ties between Epstein, a billionaire who was convicted in 2008 in the United States of soliciting a teenage girl for prostitution, and Barak, whose campaign ahead of Israel’s general election on Sept. 17 focuses on fighting corruption.
Epstein financed much of an investment of several million dollars formally made by Barak in the company Reporty Homeland Security, according to Haaretz. It’s now called Carbyne. It develops call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services.
“I saw the business opportunity and registered a partnership in my control in Israel. A small number of people I know invest in it,” Barak said in a statement to Haaretz. “Since these are private investments, it wouldn’t be proper or right for me to expose the investors’ details.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has challenged Barak to explain why he was paid over $2 million by the Wexner Foundation in 2004 for what was described as a research program, when Epstein was among the foundation’s trustees. Barak was not serving in office at the time. The Jewish philanthropist Leslie Wexner and Epstein were close friends and business associates at the time.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution. He served 13 months in jail as per a plea bargain that shielded him from federal prosecution. He was arrested last week on fresh sex-crime charges.
The U.S. attorney in Miami who reportedly helped negotiate the plea agreement was Alexander Acosta. On Friday, Acosta resigned as labor secretary amid scrutiny, including in court, of the deal.