COLUMBUS, United States — L Brands Inc. has hired an external law firm to probe any ties between the company and Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who’s facing new charges.
Epstein for years helped manage the finances of the fashion giant’s founder Les Wexner and was an executive or director at other entities tied to the billionaire, including the Wexner Foundation. L Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret, doesn’t believe Epstein was ever formally employed by the company, a spokeswoman said.
“Mr Epstein served as Mr Wexner’s personal money manager for a period that ended nearly 12 years ago,” the spokeswoman said. “We take these matters seriously, and at the direction of the L Brands board of directors, have engaged outside counsel to conduct a thorough review.”
Former L Brands executives and board members said Epstein was occasionally seen at headquarters and sometimes offered input on company matters prior to serving time in a Florida jail more than a decade ago.
“He could have been difficult at times in trying to interject on the operations of the company," said Kent Kleeberger a former executive who worked in the Columbus, Ohio, headquarters of the Limited, L Brands’ precursor. "He drove some people a little crazy at times."
Robert Morosky, a former vice chairman and chief financial officer of the Limited, remembers being confused by Epstein’s presence at the company and that the financier kept a distance from him.
Epstein was arrested this month and has been charged with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy. Since then, he’s been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
The connection between Epstein and Wexner has added to the woes of L Brands, whose stock is down nearly 75 percent from its peak and has faced activist pressure to split itself.
By Sophie Alexander, Anders Melin and Giulia Camillo; editors Pierre Paulden.