In a letter to the Wexner Foundation community issued on Wednesday evening, philanthropist Leslie Wexner accused his former friend and personal money manager Jeffrey Epstein of misappropriating “vast sums of money from me and my family” more than 10 years ago. Epstein was arrested earlier this year on charges of sex trafficking.
Wexner used the letter to address his relationship with Epstein in greater detail than he had previously done. The letter came after news reports detailing the close relationship between the two men. One of Epstein’s accusers alleged that Epstein abused her in Wexner’s home in Ohio. Wexner did not address that allegation in the letter.
“In the early 1990s Mr. Epstein became a trustee of The Wexner Foundation, but he had no executive responsibilities in the running of the Foundation. He did not work directly with Foundation staff, and he did not engage with leadership initiatives in any way,” wrote Wexner. After allegations against Epstein became known, Wexner took back control of his family’s finances and subsequently discovered that Epstein had misappropriated funds. “This was, frankly, a tremendous shock, even though it clearly pales in comparison to the unthinkable allegations against him now.”
Fellows and alumni of the Wexner Foundation’s graduate fellowship, a prestigious program for those pursuing careers in the Jewish professional world, raised concerns last week on the fellowship’s listserv and in conversations among themselves.
In the letter, Wexner says that Epstein paid back some of the money stolen from Wexner in donations to the Wexner Foundation. “The widely reported payments Mr. Epstein made to the charitable fund represented a portion of the returned monies. All of that money — every dollar of it — was originally Wexner family money,” wrote Wexner.