Philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky, and conductor Leon Botstein have confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that they were previously involved in transactions with the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein, who had widespread connections in political, business, showbiz and academic circles, died in a prison cell in 2019, while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. Both Chomsky and Botstein had dealings with the financier after 2008, when he pleaded guilty to procuring a child for sex work and soliciting a prostitute, the WSJ said in a report on Wednesday.
Chomsky told the outlet that he didn’t receive any money from Epstein, and only asked the financier to help with “a technical matter” relating to the disbursement of common funds from his first marriage.
The transfer of around $270,000 from an Epstein-linked account in March 2018 was “restricted to rearrangement of my own funds, and did not involve one penny from Epstein,” he insisted.
“My late wife died 15 years ago after a long illness. We paid no attention to financial issues. We asked Epstein for advice. The simplest way seemed to be to transfer funds from one account in my name to another, by way of his office,” the 94-year-old explained.
Chomsky previously told the WSJ that he knew Epstein and that they met occasionally to discuss political and academic issues.
Botstein said that he had approached the late financier on a number of occasions in an attempt to raise money for Bard College in New York, where he’s held the post of president since the 1970s.
The Swiss-American conductor acknowledged receiving checks for some $150,000 from an Epstein-linked account in 2016. However, he insisted that he transferred the money to the school later that year as part of a larger donation of over $1 million. Bard College confirmed to the outlet that it had received that donation from Botstein.
According to the conductor, Epstein designated him as a consultant for one of his projects and transferred the funds to him as payment for the job. However, the musician said he did not actually do any consulting for the convicted sex offender.
“I have no idea why he [Epstein] concocted this scheme. He didn’t want to write a check to Bard. He took pity on me, and he said, ‘I’m gonna give you money and you do whatever you want with it,’” Botstein recalled.