The American billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender who was arrested this week on new sex-trafficking charges involving underage girls, partnered with former Prime Minister Ehud Barak to invest in the former prime minister’s startup.
Haaretz Weekly Episode 33
In 2015 Barak set up a limited partnership, in which he is the sole shareholder. That company invested in Reporty Homeland Security, established in 2014, becoming a major shareholder. Last year Reporty changed its name to Carbyne. The company develops call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services.
Barak is the chairman of Carbyne and according to reports by business media outlets, his personal investment in the company totals millions of dollars in it. Haaretz has learned that Epstein financed a considerable part of the investment, thus becoming a partner in the project.
One of the company’s directors is Pinchas Buchris, the director general of the Defense Ministry during Barak’s tenure as defense minister. Buchris encouraged the former prime minister to invest in the company.
“Barak brought the money and as far as I’m concerned it’s his. I don’t know Epstein and haven’t met him,” Buchris told Haaretz.
“I saw the business opportunity and registered a partnership in my control in Israel. A small number of people I know invest in it,” Barak said in a statement to Haaretz. “Since these are private investments, it wouldn’t be proper or right for me to expose the investors’ details.”
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Epstein, who was raised in a Jewish home in Brooklyn, New York, made his fortune trading options on Wall Street and managed a finance management company whose clients included some of the wealthiest people in the United States. Epstein has extensive contacts with senior business people and politicians. His close contacts included presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
He was also known for his flashy lifestyle. Epstein lives in a $77 million dollar mansion in Manhattan and owns another mansion in Florida and one in the Virgin Islands, as well as properties in Paris and New Mexico.
On Saturday, Epstein was arrested at a New Jersey airport after arriving from a visit to Paris and charged with sex trafficking.
In the original investigation, which ended in a plea deal and state rather than federal charges, Florida authorities found that Epstein paid dozens of girls as young as 14 or 15, some of them runaways or foster children, for sexual services between 1999 and 2005.
At a raid at his New York mansion this week, police found hundreds of photographs of underage girls.
Under the plea bargain in 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution. He served 13 months in a country lockup, under an arrangement that allowed him to leave his sentence in a private division, from which he was allowed to leave for work six days a week.
The lenient arrangements, which raised public criticism, were attributed to his business and political connections. That deal is now being challenged in a federal court in Florida.
One of Epstein’s prominent clients was Leslie Wexner, founder and chairman of the parent company of Victoria’s Secret’s and other companies. Epstein financed and managed the Wexner Foundation, a philanthropic organization that operates training programs to advance leadership and excellence in Israel and among North American Jews.
Last year Israeli journalist Erel Segal reported that in 2004 the foundation gave Barak $2.3 million for research he conducted. Barak refused to comment on the research and said, “as a private citizen I deal with research and business entrepreneurship. My services are in demand, and there are bodies prepared to pay me large sums for them.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides have blasted Barak since Epstein’s recent arrest in connection to their ties. In one video posted to social media, Netanyahu asked “what else the sex offender gave Ehud Barak.”
Barak responded with a video mentioning Netanyahu’s own ties to Arnaud Mimran, a French businessman who was sentenced to eight years in prison for his part in a tax fraud involving billions of euros in what was dubbed “the sting of the century.” Mimran testified that he gave 1 million euros to Netanyahu’s election campaign. Later he claimed the donation was smaller, and Netanyahu said Mimran donated $40,000 that was deposited in a public fund, when Netanyahu was out of office.