PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) – An Ohio billionaire claims disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein of misappropriated “vast sums” of his fortune while managing his personal finances more than a decade ago.
Leslie Wexner, the retail titan behind Victoria’s Secret, said in a letter this week that he recovered “some of the funds” but severed ties with Epstein in 2007 as sexual abuse allegations first surfaced against him in Florida.
The letter was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which put the amount of misappropriated money at more than $46 million.
It’s unclear whether Wexner reported the allegations to law enforcement.
“This was, frankly, a tremendous shock, even though it clearly pales in comparison to the unthinkable allegations against him now,” Wexner wrote.
He added that he was “sickened” by Epstein’s alleged abuse of dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida.
Epstein, 66, has pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
Wexner is the founder and chief executive officer of L Brands, a fashion retailer based in Ohio. The company’s board recently hired an outside law firm to review any role Epstein may have played at the business.
Epstein managed Wexner’s fortune beginning in the late 1980s and helped straighten out the finances for a real estate development Wexner was backing in a wealthy Columbus, Ohio, suburb.
It was through Wexner that Epstein acquired his seven-story Manhattan mansion less than a block from Central Park, a 21,000-square-foot residence that has been valued at about $77 million.
Wexner said he believed he could trust Epstein at first based on “friends who vouched for and recommended him as a knowledgeable financial professional.”
“I am embarrassed that, like so many others, I was deceived by Mr. Epstein,” he wrote in the letter. “I know now that my trust in him was grossly misplaced and I deeply regret having ever crossed his path.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)