'The arrest of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein gripped the world in July - and his apparent suicide in his prison cell last week has only further fuelled conjecture about his connections to the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people.
Epstein had already been convicted by a Florida state court of soliciting prostitution from a minor, serving 13 months in 2008 in a sentence widely denounced as extremely lenient.
US officials have vowed to pursue a federal criminal investigation begun last month into Epstein, who is accused of raping scores of underage girls and providing high-profile contacts access to minors for similar purposes.
Media reports and court documents have unearthed new details about the 66-year-old financier's life, including his ties to the Middle East, notably to figures in Saudi Arabia and Israel.
As a multimillionaire who worked for decades in the finance world and invested millions in various hedge funds and businesses, Epstein came into contact with numerous affluent and influential figures across the world.
He reportedly boasted that his wide social circle had made him a powerful go-between to connect certain businesses to would-be funders.
Epstein’s now infamous “black book”, which was photocopied by a former butler and made public in 2015, lists several prominent Middle Eastern business contacts - although the extent of Epstein’s relationships with these individuals is difficult to ascertain.
Notable names in the address book included Israeli venture capitalist Yariv Zghoul; Saudi businessman Amr al-Dabbagh; Syrian-Saudi financier Wafic Said; and British-Lebanese CEO Amado Fakhre, who spent two years in prison in Cuba over alleged corruption.
In an account published on Monday, New York Times journalist James Stewart wrote that Epstein told him that “he’d spoken to the Saudis about possibly investing in Tesla”, the company owned by Elon Musk.
He didn't elaborate about which Saudis or other specifics, according to Stewart.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund invested $2bn in Tesla last year. However, the company has denied working with Epstein.'
Read more: Jeffrey Epstein: What we know about the paedophile businessman’s Middle East ties
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