Les Wexner, the billionaire behind Victoria’s Secret and Bed & Body Works, kicked off a presentation to investors Tuesday by saying he’s “embarrassed” by his former ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who offed himself in his jail cell last month while awaiting trial on new charges.
“Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved, is something that I’m embarrassed I was even close to. But that is in the past,” Wexner, 82, said in his opening remarks at the Columbus, Ohio, event.
In August, Wexner said that Epstein “misappropriated” more than $46 million of his personal fortune while serving as his money manager more than a decade ago. He also said an internal investigation into Epstein’s involvement at L Brands remains ongoing.
Wexner, who hired Epstein as a personal money manager for years, didn’t mention the convicted felon by name. But he called recent reports of his ties to the convicted sex offender him as a “distraction” that “happened a long time ago.”
Of course, Wexner, who is CEO of Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands, has been under pressure for reasons having nothing to do with Epstein, including criticisms that lingerie seller, known for its overly padded and bejeweled push-up bras, is outdated.
Shares of L Brands, down 28 percent this year, rose 1.5 percent to $18.15 in midday trading on Tuesday.
Epstein, 66, was arrested in July for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of underage girls — some as young as 14 — between 2002 and 2005 before he was found dead from an apparent hanging.
“Everyone has to feel enormous regret from the advantage that was taken of so many young women,” Wexner said. “That’s just unexplainable, abhorrent behavior and clearly something we all would condemn.”
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