Crime Jeffrey Epstein’s Charity: An Image Boost Built on Deception
Latest Epstein accuser calls on Prince Andrew to talk to U.S. authorities
PEOPLE-JEFFREY EPSTEIN/LAWSUIT (UPDATE 1, TV, PIX):UPDATE 1-Latest Epstein accuser calls on Prince Andrew to talk to U.S. authoritiesNEW YORK, Nov 18 (Reuters) - A woman who accuses Jeffrey Epstein of sexually abusing her as a child on Monday said Britain’s Prince Andrew should tell U.S. authorities what he knows about the financier.
Jeffrey Epstein’s foundation looked for all the world like a charitable powerhouse: On its websites and in its press releases, the foundation was described as a patron of hospitals, universities and film festivals, run by a global philanthropist.
The organization — known by various names, but usually called the J. Epstein Virgin Islands Foundation — wasn’t officially a charity for much of its existence, having lost its tax-exempt status in 2008.
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Two correction officers stand accused of failing to check on Epstein then falsifying records to cover their tracks, according to reports.Both guards stand accused falsifying Metropolitan Correctional Center records after Epstein, recently charged with sex trafficking, was found hanging in his cell on Aug. 10, sources told the New York Post.
But it worked to his advantage, helping improve the reputation of Mr. Epstein, a convicted sex offender.
A review of tax documents, government records and information provided by federal officials shows that the foundation lost its tax-exempt status for an unknown reason in the same year Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor.
In the years between that case and his suicide in August as he faced federal sex-trafficking charges, Mr. Epstein was unshackled from the rigorous financial disclosures that charities are supposed to file every year with the government — allowing him to exaggerate his philanthropy as he sought to.
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The guards were previously placed on leave after allegedly submitting false reports that they were checking Epstein.WEB EXTRA: Read the indictment (.
The foundation’s portrayals of its giving ranged from simple embellishment to staggering overstatement.
One of Mr. Epstein’s websites said the foundation had “helped to underwrite” the, when in fact it had donated $28,000 to a related organization that offers grants to filmmakers and educational programming to students in New York City. The foundation sent out news releases touting donations to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to and , claims that officials at the school later . It also issued a statement in 2013 saying researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital had made a major advance in breast cancer research with the backing of Mr. Epstein, although the health system’s own release makes no mention of him.
But the most glaring exaggeration appeared on Wikipedia. A user name apparently connected to Mr. Epstein edited the page for the foundation and put its annual outlay at $200 million a year — just under the amount the Facebook foundercontributed to charity in 2018.
Epstein jail guards plead not guilty
NEW YORK (AP) — The latest on charges against two correctional officers responsible for guarding Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself (all times local): 4 p.m. Two jail guards charged with falsifying prison records the night Jeffrey Epstein killed himself have pleaded not guilty. A grand jury indictment made public Tuesday accused guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas of failing to perform checks on Epstein every half hour, as required, and of fabricating log entries to show they had. Epstein was found dead in his cell in August at the correctional center, where he had been awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) 4 p.m.
In reality, the foundation was worth a small fraction of that amount, according tothrough a public records lawsuit in the Virgin Islands.
Eighteen years of financial statements show that just under $20 million flowed into the foundation since it was founded in 2000. Roughly $16.6 million was spent on donations and grants; most of the rest paid unspecified “general and administrative” expenses and $1.5 million in interest for what appears to be an undisclosed debt.
The documents, which were filed with the Virgin Islands Division of Corporations and Trademarks, do not offer details about where the money came from or ended up. That information would be contained in the public document, Form 990, that charities are required to file each year with the Internal Revenue Service. But there is just one publicly available Form 990 from the foundation —— and it does not include any information on grants or donations.
Mr. Epstein’s websites portrayed the foundation as an organization with high standards and high aspirations for changing the world. A page from one site described a multistage grant process that asked applicants to describe how their project was innovative, the “pressing need” it would address and an explanation of how they would evaluate their results.
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Lawyers told a New York judge they were still fielding calls from alleged victims of the accused sex trafficker who died by suicide last August.The plaintiffs' attorneys made the disclosure during a court hearing related to the estate of the accused sex trafficker, who died by suicide in August.
, also said it was “vital to understand” that the foundation and another run by Mr. Epstein were not “piggy banks.”
But that is the term that Martin Sheil, a retired supervisory special agent with the criminal investigations division of the I.R.S., used to describe the foundation. Its lack of disclosures, he said, “could be an overt act of concealment.”
It is not clear if such misrepresentations amounted to a crime. False statements meant to fraudulently solicit donations are illegal and generally prosecuted by state attorneys general.
The New York State attorney general’s officewhether the foundation, which said on one of its sites that it had offices in Manhattan and the Virgin Islands, needed to register as a charity in New York. Mr. Epstein’s longtime lawyer, Darren Indyke, replied that the site was inaccurate and that the foundation was operated out of an office in St. Thomas.
Mr. Indyke, who is one of two executors of Mr. Epstein’s $577 million estate, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Before regulators closed their inquiry, Mr. Indyke provided them with a copy of a letter the foundation received from the I.R.S. in 2000 verifying its status as a charitable tax-exempt organization. But he never disclosed that the agency had dropped the foundation from its official roll of tax-exempt organizations.
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The Duke announced on Wednesday that he would be stepping back from public duties in the wake of the scandal. Gloria Allred, a lawyer for several Epstein victims, said during a Thursday press conference that Prince Andrew should meet with FBI investigators as soon as possible.“It should be done without delay,” said Allred. “Time is of the essence. These victims have waited long enough.”One of Epstein’s victims spoke at a November 19 press conference with Allred and agreed that Prince Andrew should cooperate with investigators.
The foundation was set up as part of Mr. Epstein’s participation in a lucrative program in the Virgin Islands that offered big tax breaks to his businesses — Financial Trust and Southern Trust — in return for a philanthropic commitment to charities in the territory. One of Mr. Epstein’swas offering tax advantage strategies that sometimes included charitable giving.
Reports from the agency that approved the tax incentive show the foundation made more than $1.8 million in donations to charities, educational scholarships and symposiums there. In an emailed statement, the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority said the foundation was established “primarily for the purpose of making charitable contributions to the Virgin Islands community.”
But public records show it also carried out some unusual transactions.
In 2017, the foundation, also known as Enhanced Education, cut a check for $160,000 to pay fines Mr. Epstein incurred for. Its funds also backed the causes of political officials in the Virgin Islands, to support a computer giveaway by an elected official. The foundation also contributed tens of thousands of dollars to other groups, including the territory’s chamber of commerce.
Federal investigators have taken an interest in the foundation. In August, the F.B.I. contacted the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources about the payment to resolve the permit violations. Agents asked whether the department had a policy prohibiting a charitable foundation from paying the penalty, said Jamal Nielsen, a spokesman for the department. He said the contribution did not violate any department rules.
Prince Andrew office is moved out of Buckingham Palace
Andrew's charity is being moved out of the palace following his BBC interview on Jeffrey Epstein."The Duke will continue to work on Pitch and will look at how he takes this forward outside of his public duties, and outside of Buckingham Palace," the palace said in a statement. "We recognize there will be a period of time while this transition takes place.
The F.B.I. in New York declined to comment, citing an “ongoing investigation.”
It’s not clear how the foundation lost its tax-exempt status. It could have given it up, or it may have been taken away after an I.R.S. investigation. Eric L. Smith, a spokesman for the I.R.S., said the agency could not comment, citing federal privacy laws.
The I.R.S. can also revoke tax-exempt status if a foundation fails to file a Form 990 for three consecutive years, although that rule took effect in 2010. Steven T. Miller, a former acting I.R.S. commissioner and now the national director of tax at Alliantgroup, said Form 990s “are vital both for regulators and the general public to understand the finances of a given entity.”
The scant filings by Mr. Epstein’s foundation, he said, showed a “lack of transparency.”
And over the years, Mr. Epstein operated at least three other charities, including one based in the Virgin Islands. (Mr. Indyke, his lawyer, long served as an officer for Mr. Epstein’s charities and.)
Two of Mr. Epstein’s foundations relied on wealthy business titans to provide millions in seed capital. His C.O.U.Q. foundation received about $21 million in stock and cash from charities of, the billionaire retail magnate whose company owns Victoria’s Secret. Mr. Epstein’s Gratitude America foundation received a $10 million donation in 2015 from a company tied to the private equity billionaire
Mr. Epstein’s other foundations complied with federal disclosure rules, making his namesake foundation the outlier.
“It doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Mr. Sheil, the retired I.R.S. special agent.
After his 2008 conviction, Mr. Epstein took great pains to burnish his reputation — and the foundation played a key role.
In 2013, a Wikipedia user named Turvill made a number of changes to the page for the foundation. The changes included saying the foundation hadto a long list of notable scientists since its inception, then raised its claim further by describing that sum as its approximate annual outlay.
The user name’s connection to Mr. Epstein is evident from information he disclosed in New Mexico as a result of his 2008 conviction. He provided a list of online user names, including those used by third-party reputation management services he hired. On that list was a Wikipedia handle, Turville, that does not appear anywhere on the website. But the similar name Turvill does — and that user had a particular focus on.
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