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Thu Oct 3, 2019, 12:58 PM

Jeffrey Epstein raked in $200 million after legal and financial crises

Jeffrey Epstein’s biggest client had deserted him, his money management firm had lost more than $150 million during the financial crisis, and he was a registered sex offender. But after he started a new company with a wildly speculative business plan in 2012, Mr. Epstein had no problem pulling in cash.

His start-up, Southern Trust, reported more than $200 million in revenues over the next five years, according to a review of previously unreported financial statements filed in the Virgin Islands.

Despite a name that calls to mind a financial services firm, the fledgling company with a handful of employees said it was developing a DNA data-mining service. Southern Trust was trying to gauge customers’ predisposition to cancer by “basically organizing mathematical algorithms,” Mr. Epstein told Virgin Islands officials as he sought a lucrative tax break in 2012.

Mr. Epstein’s business revival is documented in financial statements and other filings obtained by The New York Times. The documents — from Southern Trust and his earlier firm, Financial Trust — offer a glimpse of Mr. Epstein’s mysterious finances. They show that Financial Trust peaked at the end of 2004, when it reported $563 million in assets and net income of $108 million. And they demonstrate how Mr. Epstein rebuilt his business in his later years, with Southern Trust reporting $175 million in retained earnings — leftover profits that can be reinvested — in 2017, the last year for which statements were available.

But the documents do not say who was paying vast sums of money to Mr. Epstein’s new venture just a few years after his 2008 guilty plea to soliciting a minor for prostitution. Nor do they offer an explanation for why customers would hand over money to a man who had apparently switched from financial services to DNA research.


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