Donald Trump had a longtime financial relationship with the German-based multinational Deutsche Bank in the 1990s through the mid-2000s. The bank, for reasons that remain murky, extended him millions in loans at a time when other banks considered Trump too risky for credit, as The Inquisitr reported. But according to reports surfacing this week, the bank also had another questionable client: convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
On Thursday, according to a report by The Daily Beast, Epstein, who remains in custody after his arrest July 6 on new sex-trafficking charges, asked a judge to keep his financial records under seal, following an exposé by The New York Times on Wednesday revealed that much of Epstein's wealth "appears to be an illusion."
Epstein has been frequently described in press reports as a "billionaire," but according to the New York Times investigation, "there is little evidence" that Epstein has a personal worth of a billion dollars.
The NYT reported that much of Epstein's appearance of massive wealth derives from his connection to Steven J. Hoffenberg, a Wall Street investor who once owned The New York Post newspaper. In 1995, Hoffenberg pleaded guilty to a massive securities fraud racket, a Ponzi scheme according to The Los Angeles Times. Hoffenberg served 16 years behind bars, finally going free in 2013.
Now Hoffenberg says that Epstein was his partner in the $500 million securities fraud operation, and that rather than being exposed and going to prison as well, instead used the cash they had swindled from their victims to launch his own investment firm. They also used loans from Deutsche Bank, according to allegations made by Hoffenberg in an interview with The Observer newspaper.
"He's never disclosed to the investors that provide the money to Deutsche Bank his true legacy, that's securities fraud," Hoffenberg told The Observer.
Despite his conviction in 2008 for having sex with a 14-year-old girl, Deutsche Bank kept an active relationship with Epstein until earlier this year, according to a Boston Globe report. The bank finally shut down Epstein's accounts over several months, according to the report.
"The revelation of the closed accounts adds to the mystery surrounding Epstein's supposed fortune," The Boston Globe wrote, adding that the source of Epstein's supposed wealth remains unclear — and though he lived an extravagant lifestyle complete with private jets and mansions in New York, Palm Beach, and the Virgin Islands, he never appeared to attract attention from Wall Street for any deals, trades, or investments.
Trump has attempted to distance himself from Epstein since his fellow Deutsche Bank customer's arrest last weekend, but Trump earlier said that he knew Epstein for 15 years and described him as a "terrific guy," as The Inquisitr has reported.