Epstein and His Wall Street Connections, Interesting Visits While Serving Time, “One Connection Often Begets Another”…

Jeffrey Epstein at a court hearing in 2008.
CreditCreditUma Sanghvi/Palm Beach Post, via Associated Press

Jeffrey Epstein’s Deep Ties to Top Wall Street Figures

When Jeffrey Epstein was serving time in Florida for soliciting prostitution from a minor, he got a surprising visitor: James E. Staley, a top JPMorgan Chase executive and one of the highest-ranking figures on Wall Street.

Mr. Staley had good reason to maintain his relationship with Mr. Epstein, who received him at his Palm Beach office, where he had been permitted to serve some of his 13-month sentence in 2008 and 2009. Over the years, Mr. Epstein had funneled dozens of wealthy clients to Mr. Staley and his bank.

Mr. Epstein, who was charged this month with sex trafficking of teenage girls, liked to portray himself as a financial wizard, someone whose business and investing acumen made him indispensable to corporate executives and other leaders. But there is little evidence to support that notion. The financial services that Mr. Epstein dispensed appear to have been mostly pedestrian, and his list of clients small.

Mr. Epstein nonetheless managed to affix himself to a handful of prominent Wall Street veterans, including Mr. Staley, who is now chief executive of the British bank Barclays.

Mr. Epstein provided personal tax services to Leon D. Black, whose Apollo Global Management is one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. He discussed a major investment idea with and entrusted millions of dollars to Glenn Dubin, who ran the hedge fund Highbridge Capital Management. And, with Mr. Staley, he laid some of the early groundwork for JPMorgan to make a major acquisition — one that would vault Mr. Staley’s career to a higher plane.

Mr. Black, Mr. Dubin and Mr. Staley were not Mr. Epstein’s biggest business relationships: That distinction belongs to Leslie H. Wexner, the billionaire founder of the L Brands retail empire, which included Victoria’s Secret and The Limited. He gave Mr. Epstein broad powers to invest his fortune for nearly two decades.

In the weeks after Mr. Epstein’s arrest, it has become clear that he lied about the identities of some of his clients and the services he was providing, part of a successful effort to create the illusion of a sophisticated investor and management guru advising a who’s who of corporate America.

Mr. Epstein boasted of having advised Elon Musk after the Tesla founder’s impulsive Twitter posts sent shares plummeting last summer. He has claimed to have worked closely with Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president. He has told others he was a tax consultant to the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Representatives for the three men told The New York Times that there was no truth to Mr. Epstein’s statements.

A decade ago, he tried to woo Nicholas and Thomas Pritzker, two scions of the family that created the Hyatt Hotel chain, by inviting a top scientist in the field of virtual reality to meet them in New York, according to a person who attended. He contended that billionaires like the Pritzker family needed his advice because he had special insights that could translate the ideas of mathematicians into workable financial strategies. The Pritzkers never considered working with him, according to a person close to the family.

Some of the investment ideas he trumpeted to would-be clients appeared far-fetched. One supposed strategy was to constantly make overnight loans to banks around the world. (There is no sign of Mr. Epstein having actually made any such loans, and it is hard to imagine such a strategy generating substantial profits, since overnight loans generate minuscule interest rates and last for only a matter of hours.)

Yet starting in the 1990s, Mr. Epstein — whose Wall Street experience consisted of a five-year stint at the investment bank Bear Stearns — managed to build a small but powerful finance network.

Mr. Black, the Apollo founder, was a widely respected figure on Wall Street when he met Mr. Epstein in the late 1990s. Before long, Mr. Black had entrusted Mr. Epstein with periodically providing a variety of tax and estate-planning services, according to a person close to Mr. Black. It was an unlikely assignment: Armies of lawyers and accountants have expertise in those fields; Mr. Epstein did not.

Over the next 15 or so years, including after Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in 2008, Mr. Black met with Mr. Epstein at his palatial townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, according to people who were there

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