Jan 10, 2020

MIT investigation reveals Epstein-related loophole

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Swap donations with someone else’s foundation." That was a suggestion from the then-director of the MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito — his proposed solution to the problem of accepting donations from convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Why it matters: Ito's proposed solution seems to have worked. Epstein took credit for millions of donations to the Media Lab from Bill Gates and Leon Black — and even after a four-month investigation by law firm Goodwin Procter, there have been no findings that anything was amiss with any of those donations.

Driving the news: MIT has released an unredacted version of the 61-page Goodwin Procter report into Epstein's donations to the university.

  • The report recounts a 2013 conversation in which Ito suggested the swapped-donations strategy as a means to conceal the origin of Epstein money.
  • The following year, Epstein took credit for a $2 million donation from Bill Gates and a $5 million donation from Leon Black, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management.

Gates denied to Goodwin Procter that his donation had anything to do with Epstein, while Black refused to talk to the law firm.

  • "We were unable to connect with representatives of Mr Black," Goodwin Procter lead investigator Roberto Braceras tells Axios.
  • Goodwin Procter managed to find no evidence that the Gates and Black donations were made at Epstein's behest, or that they represented Epstein money laundered via the billionaires.

On Friday, MIT announced that it had placed a mechanical engineering professor, Seth Lloyd, on paid administrative leave following the Goodwin Procter review, as Axios reported.

My thought bubble: MIT is currently putting together "a clear and comprehensive gift policy" and "a process to properly vet donors". But if the Leon Black donations were indeed Epstein-related — and there's no evidence to suggest that they weren't — the results of this investigation suggest that Epstein and Ito have already demonstrated an easy way to circumvent any such policies.

Go deeper: Exclusive: MIT and Jeffrey Epstein's billionaire enablers

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Dueling claims between MIT's Epstein investigator and Leon Black

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Last Friday, MIT released an unredacted version of the 61-page report by law firm Goodwin Procter into Jeffrey Epstein's donations to the university.

What's new: There is a dispute as to the cooperation of Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black, a onetime Epstein client who in 2014 made an anonymous $5 million donation to MIT which Epstein claimed to have arranged.

Go deeperArrowJan 15, 2020

MIT puts tenured professor on paid leave over Jeffrey Epstein gifts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

MIT announced Friday that mechanical engineering professor Seth Lloyd was placed on paid administrative leave following the school's review into donations it received from convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

By the numbers: MIT found that Epstein made 10 separate gifts to the school totaling $850,000 from 2002 to 2017. Nine of those donations were made after Epstein's 2008 conviction, including $225,000 to Lloyd and $525,000 to the MIT Media Lab.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020

Prosecutor: Prince Andrew has given zero cooperation on Epstein probe

Prince Andrew. Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Britain's Prince Andrew has so far provided federal prosecutors and the FBI "zero cooperation" in interviews regarding Jeffrey Epstein, prosecutor Geoffrey Berman said at a news conference Monday.

Why it matters: After stepping away from his royal duties in November, the prince said he was willing to help law enforcement investigations into Epstein and possible co-conspirators.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020