Australia

Kevin Rudd says Jeffrey Epstein's donations to his think tank are 'deeply disturbing'

Kevin Rudd speaks to the media during a press conference at Brisbane City Botanic Garden in Brisbane, Sunday, October 11, 2020. Source: AAP

It's been revealed deceased sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein donated money to a think thank currently chaired by Kevin Rudd.

US financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein donated $US650,000 ($920,500 AUD) to the International Peace Institute between 2011 to 2019, a revelation the think-tank's chair Kevin Rudd says is "deeply disturbing".

The former Australian prime minister, who became vice-chair of the UN-affiliated organisation in 2014 and chair in 2018, has convened an extraordinary board meeting after reports IPI president Terje Rod-Larsen borrowed $US130,000 from convicted pedophile Epstein in 2013.

"I first learned of contributions from Epstein's foundations to the IPI in November 2019 through reporting by the Norwegian press. I was blindsided by this," Mr Rudd said in a statement to Norwegian business newspaper DN on Wednesday.

"These revelations were deeply disturbing to me and to other members of the board. IPI's work includes combating human trafficking and sexual violence."

Mr Rudd said the recently reported financial links between Norwegian diplomat Mr Rod-Larsen and Epstein were also concerning.

"As a consequence of this latest development, I took action last week to convene an extraordinary board meeting and requested that Mr Rod-Larsen provide a report to the board on all these matters," Mr Rudd said.

"I will be recommending to the board that an immediate and comprehensive probity review be conducted into the matters raised."

Mr Rudd said he had been on a teleconference call with nine other people, including Epstein, in January 2014.

"Any significant engagement with someone as odious as Epstein must be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. I have no recollection whatsoever of ever meeting Epstein," Mr Rudd said.

Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of procuring an underage girl for prostitution.

In July last year, he was arrested on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York but was found dead in his US prison cell a month later.

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