The CEO of L Brands, the parent company to Victoria’s Secret, said he was betrayed by Jeffrey Epstein.
Les Wexner, the only person known to have received financial advice from the supposed financier, discussed the situation with investors at a company conference on Sept. 10.
“Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved is something that I am embarrassed that I was even close to, but that is in the past,” Wexner said, according to Fox Business.
“At some point in your life, we are all betrayed by friends, and if we haven’t, we’re really fortunate to have lived a perfectly sheltered life.”
“Everyone has to feel enormous regret from the advantage that was taken of so many young women,” Wexner said, reported Bloomberg. “That’s just unexplainable, abhorrent behavior and clearly something we all would condemn.”
Wexner didn’t mention Epstein by name.
Epstein was Wexner’s personal money manager and the trustee of the Wexner Foundation, Wexner’s Ohio-based charity.
Wexner said that he halted Epstein’s work in 2007, the year Epstein was accused of molesting underage girls. In a plea agreement ruled illegal earlier this year, Epstein avoided most of the charges and pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges, landing about a year in state prison.
Epstein and his co-conspirators “knowingly traveled in interstate and international commerce” to commit sexual abuse and other “violations of not only Florida law, but also federal law,” U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra said.
“In addition to his own sexual abuse of the victims, Epstein directed other persons to abuse the girls sexually.”
Epstein, 66, was arrested in July for alleged sex trafficking. He committed suicide in prison in August.
Wexner told L Brand employees he was not aware of any crimes Epstein allegedly committed, Fox reported.
L Brands said that an internal investigation is underway into the company’s links to Epstein.
Wexner sent a letter last month to the Wexner Foundation community outlining how he met Epstein and his connections to him.
“In recent weeks, there has been considerable media attention on my past connection to Jeffrey Epstein. To be clear, I never would have imagined that a person I employed more than a decade ago could have caused so much pain. I condemn his abhorrent behavior in the strongest possible terms and am sickened by the revelations I have read over the past weeks. I sincerely value your trust, and that is why it is important you hear details and context from me directly,” he said in the letter.
“I first met Mr. Epstein in the mid-1980s, through friends who vouched for and recommended him as a knowledgeable financial professional. Mr. Epstein represented that he had various well-known and respected individuals both as his financial clients and in his inner circle. Based on positive reports from several friends, and on my initial dealings with him, I believed I could trust him.”
“Eventually, he took over managing my personal finances. He was given power of attorney as is common in that context, and he had wide latitude to act on my behalf with respect to my personal finances while I focused on building my company and undertaking philanthropic efforts,” he continued.
Epstein became a trustee of the foundation in the early 1990s. When the allegations against him first emerged Epstein “vehemently denied them” but in the fall of 2007, “it was agreed that he should step back from the management of our personal finances,” he wrote.
“In that process, we discovered that he had misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family. This was, frankly, a tremendous shock, even though it clearly pales in comparison to the unthinkable allegations against him now,” Wexner said.
“With his credibility and our trust in him destroyed, we immediately severed ties with him. We were able to recover some of the funds. 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. I am embarrassed that, like so many others, I was deceived by Mr. Epstein. I know now that my trust in him was grossly misplaced and I deeply regret having ever crossed his path.”