Disgraced U.S. financier and now-deceased convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein donated US $650,000 (AU $920,500) to the International Peace Institute (IPI) between 2011 to 2019, which is chaired by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Rudd claims he has “no recollection” of meeting or speaking with Epstein and has called the revelations “deeply disturbing.”
The former prime minister, who became vice-chair of the United Nations-affiliated organisation in 2014, and chair in 2018, has convened an extraordinary board meeting after it was also revealed current IPI President Terje Rod-Larsen borrowed US $130,000 from Epstein in 2013.
“I first learned of contributions from Epstein’s foundations to the IPI in November 2019 through reporting by the Norwegian press. I was blindsided by this,” Rudd said in a statement to Norwegian business newspaper DN on Oct. 29, who broke the story.
“These revelations were deeply disturbing to me, and to other members of the board. IPI’s work includes combating human trafficking and sexual violence,” he added.
Rudd was questioned on the allegations on the same day on 2GB radio, based in Sydney, and repeated his assertion that he could not recall having contact with Epstein.
“I remember calling in to a meeting which was called the advisory board for the president of Mongolia,” Rudd told the station. “I called into it and he (the Mongolian president) asked for my views, and I explained it to him.”
“I have no recollection of Epstein being on that call. To the best of my knowledge, no (I never met him) I said in my statement yesterday that there was a function hosted by the International Peace Institute involving the likes of Henry Kissinger, the U.S. secretary of state, the U.S. secretary-general and others at the back end of 2013,” he said.
“I have been told by my staff that Epstein’s name was on the invitation, whether he attended I do not know,” Rudd added.
Rudd said the revealed financial links between Norwegian diplomat Rod-Larsen and Epstein were also concerning.
“As a consequence of this latest development, I took action last week to convene an extraordinary board meeting and requested that Mr Rod-Larsen provide a report to the board on all these matters,” Rudd said.
Rod-Larsen visited Epstein at his Manhattan home at least 20 times, according to DN. Journalists from the paper, told The Daily Telegraph that they struggled to get a response from Rudd for more than a year regarding the allegations.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Rudd’s denials were “not credible.”
“It’s US $650,000; it’s a massive donation,” he said.
“Mr Epstein was a very significant character, and Mr Rudd needs to detail all of the information, because people want confidence and faith in the work that his group is doing. But at the moment, Mr Rudd has more questions than he’s got answers,” he added.
Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking of minors in July 2019; he was found dead in his prison cell in Aug. 2019.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton flew on Epstein’s jet, infamously dubbed the “Lolita Express,” at least 26 times, according to records obtained by Fox News in 2016.
In a July 2019 statement, Clinton denied ever visiting Epstein’s private island and said he had only travelled on the plane four times.
A former associate of Epstein, British socialist Ghislaine Maxwell was charged this year for assisting the convicted felon with procuring underage girls to his island.
Rudd is also a chair of the Asia Society Policy Institute and has been a strong advocate for Australia to have closer ties with Beijing.
The revelations come as Rudd has been busy campaigning for a royal commission to examine the concentration of media ownership by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation Australia.
The petition for the commission has garnered 400,000 signatures so far, but current Labor Party and Federal Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has refused to back it.
Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.