TEL AVIV – Neighbors in a New York City building tied to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged trafficking ring said that former prime minister Ehud Barak was a “frequent presence” there, the Daily Beast reported Monday.
Residents of the Upper East Side said they knew when Barak was in the building, which is owned by Epstein’s younger brother Mark, because there were “flashy cars” outside and “burly security guards in the lobby.”
“When he wasn’t in his apartment, [the security guards] would hang out in the lobby as if it was their own living room,” a resident of 301 East 66th St. told the outlet. “They would sprawl out, they’d put all their shit on the couches, and sometimes they ate on the table there.”
Asked about his stays at 301 E. 66th Street, Barak told the Daily Beast, “Despite the fact that there was no wrongdoing on my part, and that there is not even the faintest suspicion of wrongdoing on my part, I’m not going to address these questions because in the current political environment in Israel, the mere fact of my response to such a question is churned up as spin in the political game.”
“As a former prime minister I’m accompanied by bodyguards everywhere I go,” he added.
One neighbor said she saw Hebrew-speaking security guards in the elevator while another said a guard was situated outside an 11th-floor apartment. A third resident said they saw security guards at least a dozen times in the lobby.
Last month, Barak confirmed to the Daily Beast that he had visited both Epstein’s Manhattan residences and private Caribbean island but insisted that he never attended sex parties and was never with Epstein in the presence of women or young girls.
Barak said at the time that he had met with Epstein “more than 10 times and much less than a hundred times, but I can’t tell you exactly how many. I don’t keep count. Over the years, I’ve seen him on occasion.”
“I never attended a party with him,” Barak said. “I never met Epstein in the company of women or young girls.”
The Daily Mail in 2016 published a photo of Barak wearing a large hat while entering Epstein‘s apartment in Manhattan. “It is me in the picture,” he told the Daily Beast. “It was so cold the Middle Easterner had to put on a hat. I was there, for lunch or chat, nothing else. So what?”
Barak in 2015 formed a limited partnership company in Israel called Sum (E.B.) 2015 in which he was majority shareholder. The aim was to invest in a startup called Reporty which last year changed its name to Carbyne. The company offers live audio, video and geolocation transmission for emergency services.
Barak, who serves as a director in the company, invested millions of shekels in it. A large part of the funds to buy Reporty stock was provided by Epstein, according to Haaretz.
The report claimed that one of Epstein’s top clients is the founder of the Wexner Foundation, which gave Barak $2.3 million between 2004-2006. According to the report, it was the largest grant awarded by the foundation during those years, comprising half of its total expenditure in Israel. Barak claimed that he was awarded the grant for his research, the report said. However, to date no such research has come to light and both Barak and the foundation have refused to give details.
It added that Epstein had been a trustee of the foundation when it again awarded Barak $1 million in 2004.
In an interview with Channel 12 last month, Barak said he was in contact with a company run by Epstein, but refused to disclose to what ends he had received the millions from the Wexner Foundation.
He declined to disclose details of the Wexner funds, saying only that he is “not supposed to discuss it.”
“I did what I committed to do,” he said.
“I perform research and geopolitical consulting for a lot of interested parties,” he added. “It is up to them if they want to discuss it.”
Barak defended his decision to enter into a business relationship with Epstein years after the financier had served jail time because his sentence was for “soliciting prostitution.”
“The indictment didn’t say she was a minor,” Barak told Channel 12.