Fashion retail mogul and philanthropist Les Wexner said in a letter Wednesday that his former financial broker Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with sex trafficking last month, had “misappropriated vast sums of money” from him and his family. In the letter, Wexner condemned Epstein’s alleged sexual relationships with minor girls.
In an email to supporters and beneficiaries of the Wexner Foundation, one of the most influential not-for-profits in the Jewish world, Wexner sought to explain his long relationship with Epstein, who had vast “powers of attorney” over Wexner’s finances despite few traditional qualifications. Wexner said that friends who introduced him to Epstein vouched for the mysterious financier.
Based on those assessments, Wexner wrote, “I believed I could trust him.” Epstein later became a trustee for the Wexner Foundation in the 1990s, although Wexner wrote in the letter that Epstein had “no executive responsibilities in the running of the foundation.”
Since Epstein’s arrest earlier this summer, when which he was charged with running a sex trafficking ring, there has been speculation about the extent to which Wexner was aware of Epstein’s alleged assaults and child sex trafficking. One woman said that Epstein assaulted her in Wexner’s home in Columbus, Ohio.
The charges against Epstein have fueled instability for major retailers owned by L Brands, such as Victoria’s Secret. Epstein’s apparent role in the Wexner Foundation led some in the Jewish community to ask whether the foundation, and its signature fellowships, should continue to have the prestige in the Jewish community that they’ve had for over twenty years.
It is still unclear the extent to which Epstein himself engaged in Jewish philanthropy. His foundation donated $500,000 to the Ramaz School in 2007, as a prominent figure in the school’s community and father of three students there was negotiating a plea deal for Epstein that would later be deemed illegal.
Wexner wrote that once he learned of the first allegations that Epstein was paying minor girls for sexual favors and for sex, in 2007, “it was agreed” that Epstein would no longer manage Wexner’s fortune.
“In that process, we discovered that he had misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family,” the letter reads. “This was, frankly, a tremendous shock, even though it clearly pales in comparison to the unthinkable allegations against him now.”
Epstein paid back at least a portion of the misappropriated money through donations from one of his personal foundations, the C.O.U.Q. Foundation, directly to the Wexner Foundation.
“All of that money - every dollar of it - was originally Wexner family money,” Wexner wrote.
“I am embarrassed that, like so many others, I was deceived by Mr. Epstein,” Wexner added. “I know now that my trust in him was grossly misplaced and I deeply regret having ever crossed his path.”
Les Wexner Accuses Jeffrey Epstein Of Taking His Money