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The Billionaire Who Stood With Jeffrey Epstein, Leon Black

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Leon Black, one of Wall Street’s most powerful executives, allegedly lied to clients when asked about how deep his relationship was with financier pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. He told them that he only had a limited relationship, but research into the matter and court documents show a much different story.

Such questions were valid, Black said, according to a transcript of a call with analysts in July 2019. He said in a letter that same day to investors that he had had a “limited relationship” with Epstein, and had consulted him “from time to time” on personal financial matters.

However, Black’s connection to Epstein was a lot deeper than he had told investors Epstein and Black frequently socialized and Black was a client for Epstein over the final decade of his life.

What’s more digging deeper, Black wired Epstein at least $50 million in the years after Epstein’s 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with four people with knowledge of the transactions. These transfers included $10 million to a foundation started by Epstein and consulting fees that were sufficiently unusual to draw scrutiny from Deutsche Bank, where Epstein kept his accounts. Two of the people said the total amount sent by Black to Epstein could be as high as $75 million.

“Black received personal trusts and estates planning advice as well as family office philanthropy and investment services from several financial and legal advisers, including Epstein, during a six-year period, between 2012 and 2017,” said Stephanie Pillersdorf, a spokeswoman for Black. “The trusts and estate planning advice was vetted by leading auditors and law firms.”

The business relationship ended in 2018 because of a “fee dispute” and Black stopped communicating with Epstein, she said.

Adding, “Black continues to be appalled by the conduct that led to the criminal charges against Epstein, and he deeply regrets having any involvement with him,” Pillersdorf said.

She further said that Epstein did not do any work for Apollo, whose investors hold large sovereign wealth funds, and private foundations.

The fees from Black partially help explain the mystery of Epstein’s historic wealth. 

Epstein and Black’s relationship explains how a man who left behind an estate worth more than $600 million made money in the years after his most lucrative client, billionaire retail magnate Leslie H. Wexner, allegedly cut him off.

Some of the payments from Black are described in an internal report by Deutsche Bank, which served as Epstein’s primary banker from 2013 to 2019. The report was provided to regulators who fined the German bank over the summer for its failure to catch numerous red flags in Epstein’s financial activities.

Portions of the report reviewed by The Times describe a payment of $22.5 million in 2017 by a company called BV70 LLC, which the bank said owned Black’s yacht, to Plan D, the company that managed Epstein’s Gulfstream jet. When an employee in Deutsche Bank’s anti-financial-crime division inquired about the payment, she was told by another bank employee that it was a fee for consulting services provided by Southern Trust Company, one of the dozens of entities Epstein operated in the Virgin Islands. There was no explanation for why the payment went to Plan D.

The Deutsche Bank report also shows that BV70 made a $10 million donation in 2015 to a charitable foundation started by Epstein, Gratitude America, which made several million dollars in grants while Epstein was painting himself as a philanthropist. BV70 also planned to make another payment of $10 million to Epstein for advisory work, according to the report, although it was unclear if that payment was ever made.

Prior to that in 2014, Epstein received several million dollars in fees from Narrows Holdings, a company that Black — the chairman of the Museum of Modern Art — has used to purchase much of his billion-dollar art collection, according to two of the people with knowledge of the transactions. The details of the services Epstein provided in exchange for those fees are also unclear according to The Times.

Black knew Epstein for decades — in 1997 he made Epstein one of the original trustees of the Debra and Leon Black Foundation — and was among the high-profile figures who maintained a connection with the pedophile following his first arrest.

Epstein frequently hosted Black at his New York mansion, usually meeting him for breakfast or lunch, according to four people familiar with their relationship. In 2012, while on a family vacation in the Caribbean, Black traveled by yacht to attend a cookout at Epstein’s private island residence in the U.S. Virgin Islands, two of the people said.

Going back as far as 2011, Epstein’s financial advisory firm — Financial Trust — joined Black and members of his family in investing in a small emissions control company, Environmental Solutions Worldwide, where two of Black’s sons serve as board members.

The Times reports that according to an archived version of one of Epstein’s websites, the two men visited Black’s alma mater, Harvard, together and took pictures. Although the university stopped accepting any donations from Epstein after his 2008 plea, according to a report by the university, Black had given at least $5 million to professors and  Epstein’s staff members had “played a role in facilitating the Black donations.”

The attorney general of the Virgin Islands, Denise N. George, filed a civil forfeiture lawsuit against Epstein’s estate this year, claiming that Epstein had deceived officials to get Southern Trust a lucrative tax break and used his island retreat to engage in sex trafficking. George’s offices said in court filings that she intended to serve subpoenas on Black and several of his business entities. (George has said she intends to serve a subpoena hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin as well.)

According to court filings against Deutsche Bank by New York’s Department of Financial Services, Jeffrey Epstein withdrew $800K in cash before his arrest, transferred millions to his victims and pilots and allegedly bought a $3 million house for his lawyer’s wife!

Epstein made a number of large transfers and withdrawals in the years before his death, according to the court filings. An email sent to the judge overseeing Epstein’s probate case by Virgin Islands’ Chief Deputy Attorney General Carol Thomas-Jacobs details a number of these suspicious transactions.

At least one of Epstein’s executors of his estate, Darren Indyke, is mentioned throughout the court documents for the role he played in helping Epstein access large amounts of cash and paying off the young women, who were underage at the time of their abuse by Epstein.

“Over the course of the relationship, Mr. Epstein and his representatives used Deutsche Bank accounts to send dozens of wires, directly and indirectly, including at least 18 wires in the amount of $10,000 or more to alleged co-conspirators who had been the subject of past press reports,” states the DFS filing.

The estate is also accused of misleading prosecutors according to the documents.

“When the Government asked the Estate to confirm that it was not paying legal expenses for other individuals, the Estate responded that it was only paying the legal expenses of two former employees,” states the court doc.

“In fact, the Estate’s last quarterly accounting confirms it is currently paying the fees of a law firm representing an immigration attorney the Government has reason to believe was retained to seek immigration status for victims of Epstein’s and others’ sexual abuse.”

“As you know, the Government’s Amended Complaint alleges that Epstein maintained a network of corporate entities that were used to fund and conceal the trafficking of women and girls in the Virgin Islands. The Complaint also alleges that the Co Executors were principals in many of those entities,” reads the filing.

“These entities held the islands at which the women and girls were abused and the private planes and other vehicles on which they were transported. A Consent Order entered by New York’s Department of Financial Services against Deutsche Bank and documents obtained by the Government make clear that substantial transfers from the accounts held by these companies and Epstein’s tax exempt foundation, over which Co Executor lndyke also had authority, were made to models and other individuals suspected of having recruited and/or abused Epstein’s victims, to Epstein’s house managers and pilot, and to Co Executor lndyke’s spouse for $3 million to purchase a home, for example.”

The filing also claims that Epstein paid $13 million to the victims and their lawyers after the illegal sweetheart deal back in 2008.

Alex Baldridge is an activist and freelance journalist from the midwestern United States who was inspired to become a writer after watching the development of the Wikileaks story and the persecution of Julian Assange. Alex is especially interested in topics like surveillance, the rise of automation, foreign policy, prison reform, and the legal system.

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Colombian Govt Wants To Legalize Cocaine And Then Sell It

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This article was originally published On Dec 3, 2020

Colombia is one of the most notorious producers of cocaine in the world, despite the fact that the country has gone to great lengths in hopes of diminishing the trade of the drug trade within its borders.

Now, some members of the Columbian government are proposing a new approach. They are calling for the drug to be legalized and for the government to take control of the industry for themselves.

In a new bill first proposed earlier this year, senators Iván Marulanda and Feliciano Valencia call for the Colombian government to take total control of the cocaine industry to bolster public funds and cut violent cartels out of the trade.

In a recent interview with VICE, Marulanda explained that the government would purchase coca at market price from the 200,000 farming families that are believed to be involved in the trade.

The senators argued that it would actually be cheaper for authorities to buy the crop from the farmers than it would for them to destroy their crops. It costs the government roughly $1 billion every year to destroy coca crops, while it would only cost about $680 million to buy it.

The thing is, we have to recover control over the state. We’re losing control of the state to corruption, narcos in politics. They’re in municipalities, in departments and in congress. All the way to the highest echelons of government,” Marulanda explained.

From here, the state would supply cocaine to users and research groups looking to study its use for painkillers, but it would not be sold recreationally. However, cocaine use is already legal in Columbia, after a court ruled that personal consumption was a human right.

Marulanda is not sure if his bill will make an impact, or how long it will take to gain traction, but he is hoping to make it a major election issue in 2022.

‘The first big obstacle is to open up the conversation among public opinion. This has been a giant taboo. Colombians are born and raised under this assumption that drug-trafficking is a war. There’s no information about coca and cocaine. So, with this bill we hope to open the conversation,” he explained.

In recent years, the government has stepped up their military-police-style enforcement of the industry, and yet cocaine production continues to grow in the country.

Coca cultivation reached 212,000 hectares last year, a rise of nearly 2% from 208,000 hectares the year before, according to figures released by the White House in March. Potential pure cocaine production, meanwhile, rose to 951 metric tons, an 8% increase, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s pretty remarkable that they manually eradicated 100,000 hectares last year and didn’t move the needle,” Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America think tank said earlier this year. “I guess it means replanting has at least kept pace.”

It seems that no matter what the government does, the cocaine keeps on coming, so politicians are willing to try things that may drastic. However, as Marulanda pointed out in his interview with Vice, cutting out the criminal middlemen will reduce the violence seen in the country’s drug war, and also make the drug safer for the people who use it.

UPDATE: Historic win for coca/cocaine regulation Bill in Colombian Senate – 22nd April 2021

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Another Little Black Book That Once Belonged To Epstein With New Names Is Found

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It is well-known that the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein kept detailed records of all the powerful people that he stayed in contact with. There is a notorious “little black book” that was published by Gawker in 2015, which exposed many of the powerful people in his circle. This book is believed to contain the contacts that he most frequently called around 2004 and 2005. However, a new list of contacts, recently published by The Insider, reveals new names that were friends with Epstein in the 1990s.

The new black book has the names of 349 people, many of whom did not appear in the list that was previously released to the public.

Among the names on the list are Suzanne Ircha, who’s married to Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, famous wall street investor Carl Icahn, supermarket owner John A. Catsimatidis, actress Morgan Fairchild, former New Republic owner Marty Peretz; and Cristina Greeven, the wife of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

The new black book was made public through a strange twist of fate. A woman initially found the book in the late 1990s and saved it for many years until she finally sold it on eBay.

Denise Ondayko, the woman who found the book, said she was walking down Fifth Avenue in the mid-’90s when she spotted a black address book on the ground. She said that she didn’t realize it was Epstein’s book at the time, because he was pretty much unknown to the public, but she did realize that it had a lot of famous names and figured that it might be worth something, so she held onto it.

Last year, Ondayko was cleaning out an old storage unit where she was keeping some of her things and she stumbled upon the book. Now that Epstein was all over the news, the information contained in the book was much more obvious to identify.

Ondayko said she reached out to everyone in the media that she could, including John Oliver, Rachel Maddow, and The New York Times, but none of them ever got back to her, so she eventually just put it up for sale on eBay.

The buyer was Chris Helali, an aspiring politician from Vermont. He purchased the book for $425.

Helali also tried reaching out to the media, including journalists that were already reporting on Epstein, but none of them seemed interested. Finally, Nick Bryant, the reporter who wrote the original Gawker black book story forwarded the book to the Insider who decided to publish.

Insider hired Dennis Ryan, a former forensic document examiner and laboratory supervisor for the Nassau County Police Department, to verify the authenticity of the book. Ryan says that the book is definitely from the late 90s, and many of the dates and addresses match up perfectly with Epstein’s properties and known contacts at the time.

The Insider also reached out to dozens of contacts listed in the book who had never previously been publicly associated with Epstein. Fourteen acknowledged on the record that they knew or had met Epstein in the ’90s.

There are over 120 names that appear in both books, including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. Some of the other names included, Steve Rattner, Beth Anne Bovino, Dominique Bluhdorn, Jill Harth, Ted Field, Robert Nunnery, Stanley Shopkorn, Steve Ruchevsky, Ellen Susman, William and Ann Nitze, Les Gelb, Ron Daniel, Sandy Warner, Cyril Fung, Marius Fortelni, Michael Cutlip. Many of these names aren’t necessarily famous, but they are very powerful people in business and finance.

The address book is now available in a searchable database on the Insider, but it is unfortunately hidden behind a paywall.

 

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Ghislaine Maxwell’s Lawyers Cite Cosby Case As Precedent To Have Her Released From Prison

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Last week, former actor Bill Cosby was released from prison on a technicality, despite the fact that he admitted to drugging and assaulting multiple women, and was accused by many others. After his release, legal experts warned that the ruling could set a dangerous precedent that attorneys in similar cases would use to get their clients released as well.

Now, just a week later, Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers are arguing that she should have her case thrown out on the same grounds, according to The Guardian.

Cosby was released because the prosecutor involved initially didn’t press any charges, and claimed that Cosby would not be facing any legal trouble, so when Cosby later confessed, his confession was called into question and no longer admissible in court. The judge also ruled that Cosby had no chance of a fair trial because evidence that was not admissible was so freely available in the media that the jury was unable to make a judgment without considering those facts.

Photo: AP

Maxwell’s case is similar because the first time that Epstein was arrested for human trafficking, he was given a sweetheart deal by Alex Acosta, a friendly prosecutor. The deal helped Epstein avoid any serious jail time, but it also gave him and his associates legal protection from being held accountable for any future crimes.

Obviously, it is not possible to shield a criminal from the consequences of actions that they will take in the future, so Epstein was arrested again many years later after it was discovered that he continued his crimes long after his initial arrest. If Epstein and his friends did have any kind of immunity from that deal, it ended when they continued to commit crimes after the deal was made.

Still, Maxwell’s lawyers are optimistic after Cosby’s recent release.

“The government is trying to renege on its agreement and prosecute Ms Maxwell over 25 years later for the exact same offenses for which she was granted immunity,” Maxwell’s lawyers wrote in a statement to Judge Alison Nathan.

However, the judge has previously ruled that the deal did not apply to the current case.

In an opinion piece for the New York Daily News, Maxwell’s attorney David Oscar Markus wrote that releasing Bill Cosby from prison was the right decision, and that Ghislaine Maxwell should be released as well. Markus argued that prosecutors should have to keep the promises that they make to suspects, because people will sometimes incriminate themselves if they think they have immunity.

However, many times prosecutors are corrupt and make promises that are against the best interests of the public, as we saw in Jeffrey Epstein’s first “sweetheart deal” with Alex Acosta while he was district attorney in Southern, Florida. Prosecutors are lawyers, they aren’t the judge and jury, and they shouldn’t hold this much power in a case this serious.

Judge Alison Nathan has not yet responded to the recent request, but she did condemn the recent opinion piece that was published by her lawyers in the New York Daily News earlier this week.

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