Epstein casts a long shadow: It’s about time we found out how far the pedophile financier’s tentacles stretched, says ALEX BRUMMER
Amid the sexual harassment and drug uproar at the CBI, and alleged assaults by hedge fund boss Crispin Odey, there is a huge takeaway.
Businesses and the City no longer tolerate inappropriate behavior in their environment.
In rapid succession, the CBI was thrown into outer darkness by the government and by some of its most valued members, such as Marks & Spencer.
More dramatically, it only took about a week for Odey Asset Management, long considered a fixture in the private world of Mayfair hedge funds, to disintegrate as major clients broke relationships or halted future transactions pending the results of investigations and lawsuits . .
Decisive action was also seen at Tesco, where chairman John Allan, a former CBI president, was swiftly hurled out pending an investigation into his alleged inappropriate behaviour.
Contacts: The financier and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein (pictured) died four years ago in his prison cell
The boardroom has not prematurely become a zero-tolerance zone for inappropriate relationships with those in power – even if they hold the bulk of the equity as with Odey Asset Management – and those who are vulnerable to unwanted attention.
A combination of meticulous scrutiny by the news media and the wake-up call of the #MeToo movement is cleaning out the stables.
Yet not all justice regarding sexual misconduct in the financial world is so easily resolved.
Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein died in his cell four years ago and his high-profile purchaser Ghislaine Maxwell is serving a 20-year sentence.
Yet many of the greats and good who have thus far been pulled into Epstein’s financial and social web have escaped any rebuke or justice.
In Britain, initial allegations against former Barclays CEO Jes Staley about the Epstein connection were covered up by a bank board initially unwilling to lose him as leader.
He was widely admired for transforming the finances of the group’s investment banking division.
Staley is now at the center of a complex series of lawsuits and countersuits that have swept his former employer JP Morgan, the world’s most admired banker Jamie Dimon, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Hardly a day goes by without new court documents shedding light on just how deep Epstein and Staley’s tentacles leaked into the economic establishment of Washington and London.
But there appears to be no coordinated effort by regulators and prosecutors on both sides of the Atlantic to come to a close with a thorough investigation that will clear the mystery of what happened and who was involved.
Some of Epstein’s contacts, most notably Prince Andrew, have retired from public life. Others, including former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, have somehow managed to dismiss their Epstein connections as unimportant and are trying to be taken seriously for their views.
The revelations that Lord Mandelson, the former Labor affairs secretary and European Commissioner, was a frequent contact of Epstein, who knew him as “Petie,” should come as no surprise to those who followed his career inside and outside government.
He had a penchant for associating with wealthy businessmen, which led to him being sacked not once but twice by New Labor, only to be promoted to “First Secretary of State” by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
This was a title that led Epstein (from a prison cell) to suggest to Staley that Mandelson was now Deputy Prime Minister.
Mandelson is not without skills. He did well as company secretary. But in many ways he would be the last person former Director of Public Prosecutions and Labor leader Kier Starmer would want near his squeaky clean establishment.
But earlier this month, when Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves postponed plans for £28bn in green investments a year until the middle of the next parliamentary term, Mandelson was brought forward as Labor adviser to explain why it made perfect sense.
The old master was as silky smooth as ever in convincing his BBC interrogator that less green investment was more because it enabled infrastructure building.
Maybe. But after these recent revelations, Mandelson, like other Epstein associates, should be quickly shaken off the commercial stage.
His colleagues and clients at the consulting firm Global Counsel, of which he is chairman, must take action.