- Jeffrey Epstein’s Gratitude America foundation reported a number of charitable donations since its founding in 2012, but several listed recipients never received the funds, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- The discrepancy places a greater focus on Deutsche Bank‘s activities, as it handled Gratitude America’s finances. The foundation reported more than $US1.8 million in charitable contributions between 2016 and 2017.
- Banks often watch wealthy clients and their foundations with increased scrutiny, as falsified charitable donations can yield massive tax benefits.
- Epstein had long been a Deutsche Bank client, and had access to its exclusive Key Client Partners group, according to the WSJ.
- Visit the Markets Insider homepage for more stories.
Jeffrey Epstein established his Gratitude America foundation in 2012, and a Wall Street Journal report on Thursday detailed how the nonprofit was possibly used to generate tax benefits through suspicious donations.
Gratitude America reportedly made more than $US1.8 million in charitable contributions between 2016 and 2017, yet several listed recipients said they never received the funds. The foundation banked with Deutsche Bank, where Epstein had been a customer in its exclusive Key Client Partners group.
Banks tend to monitor wealthy customers’ charities with greater scrutiny, as charitable donations can lend massive tax breaks.
The foundation’s purpose was to “support the expression of gratitude for the ideals of America,” according to its incorporation records. The disgraced financier was listed as the nonprofit’s president in its foundation and for several years after, WSJ reported.
Epstein reportedly tried to use the foundation to make a charitable donation to a nonprofit in the US Virgin Islands, where he owns two islands. The payment was made in hopes of resolving a fine from the islands’ government, according to people familiar with the matter.
Instead of paying the fine, Gratitude America and another Epstein foundation each wrote $US160,000 checks out to the St. Thomas Historical Trust, a non-profit based in the islands. Representatives of the St. Thomas Historical Trust told WSJ they never received the checks.
The Gratitude America check came from a Deutsche Bank account, and both checks were signed by one of Epstein’s lawyers. The attorney also served on the foundation’s board, and eventually signed a check from the other Epstein foundation to pay the government’s fine.
“The representatives of Mr. Epstein would have liked the settlements to include the payments as charitable donations,” Virgin Islands planning department spokesman, Jamal Nielsen, said. “However, the department rejected the offer. The settlement had to be paid to the department.”
Gratitude America listed several other organisations as recipients of charitable donations, but many of them said they never received money from the nonprofit. The foundation’s 2017 tax return lists a $US15,000 donation to an Elton John charity with the same address as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, yet the charity said it has no record of a contribution from Gratitude America or Epstein.
Epstein’s nonprofit also said it made a $US75,000 donation to the Cancer Research Wellness Institute in California. Yet a representative with the institute said it never received the money.
Gratitude America listed 27 charitable donations across its 2016 and 2017 tax returns, WSJ reported. Some listed recipients, such as the Icahn School of Medicine, noted they received contributions from Epstein himself, and not Gratitude America.
Gratitude America was cut off from the bank’s services in recent months, according to WSJ, citing sources familiar with the subject.
Epstein committed suicide in his Manhattan jail cell August 10 while facing charges for federal sex-trafficking. Since then, the investor’s finances and relationship with Deutsche Bank have fallen under the purview of an ongoing federal investigation.
Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.