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The accused sex trafficker who Donald Trump once called a 'terrific guy'

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The high-powered businessman and registered sex offender counts Donald Trump and former US President Bill Clinton as former friends.

US billionaire and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has once again been charged with underage sex trafficking, but in the past, the financier was described as a "terrific guy" by the current US President.

A prominent business figure, Epstein, 66, made his fortune through his financial management company, J. Epstein & Co., which managed the assets of a slew of wealthy clients. He later changed the company's name to The Financial Trust Co in 1996. 

Through the finance world, he developed relationships with a number of high-profile figures including the UK's Prince Andrew and former US President Bill Clinton, who is reported to have taken multiple trips on the private passenger jet owned by Epstein.

Donald and Melania Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club in 2000.
Donald and Melania Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club in 2000.
Getty

According to flight records reportedly seen by Gawker in 2015, Mr Clinton shared Epstein's private plane on at least 11 occasions between 2002 and 2003, following his presidency. 

In 2002, US President Donald Trump - at the time a high-profile real estate developer - told New York magazine he had known Epstein for "fifteen years" and said he was a "terrific guy". 

"He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it - Jeffrey enjoys his social life," he said.

Five years after the interview, however, Epstein was first accused of sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls between 1999 to 2006.

Former US President Bill Clinton reportedly traveled on Epstein's private plane during the 1990's.
Former US President Bill Clinton reportedly traveled on Epstein's private plane during the 1990's.
Getty

Following the charges, the financier was able to strike a plea deal that meant he would serve just 13 months in prison - where he was allowed to leave during the day to go to his office - after pleading guilty to two state prostitution charges in 2008. He was also registered as a sex offender.

This deal, which has come under renewed controversy for its leniency, was negotiated by former US-Attorney Alexander Acosta.

Mr Acosta, who is now the US Labor Secretary and reports directly to Mr Trump, has faced calls to resign for his part in the deal, which allowed Epstein to avoid the federal charges he is now facing.

"This despicable unjust plea deal that was arranged by Acosta showed no respect for the suffering of the victims and credible accounts of human trafficking and was a clear abuse of power for political gain," an open letter to Mr Trump, signed by 19 Democratic members of Congress, read.

Jeffrey Epstein (left) and Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in 1997.
Jeffrey Epstein (left) and Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in 1997.
Getty

On Saturday night, Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where he had returned on his private plane from Paris. 

An indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan accuses the 66-year-old of arranging for girls as young as 14 to perform nude "massages" and other sex acts and paying some girls to recruit others, from at least 2002 to 2005.

The former hedge fund manager "intentionally sought out minors and knew that many of his victims were in fact under the age of 18, including because, in some instances, minor victims expressly told him their age", the indictment said.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

With AAP

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