Rudd ‘blindsided’ by Epstein bombshell
Kevin Rudd has revealed he was "blindsided" and "deeply disturbed" to learn that paedophile Jeffrey Epstein donated $650,000 to the international think-tank that he has been a member of for six years.
The former prime minister said on Thursday night he has "no recollection whatsoever" of ever meeting the convicted sex offender who was found dead in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019.
The revelations have only come to light now after Norwegian journalists probed financial links between Epstein and veteran diplomat Terje Rød-Larsen - who is President of the Peace Institute and a personal friend of Mr Rudd.
In an 891-word statement obtained by news.com.au, Mr Rudd revealed that he had first learned of the links last year. He joined the IPA board in 2014 and has been chairman since 2018.
"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.
"On 14 October, again through the Norwegian press, the Board learned that there was a personal loan agreement between Epstein and Terje Rod-Larsen that existed in 2013."
Mr Rudd said a search of his diary does appear to confirm he was on a teleconference with Epstein in 2014 and attended an event in New York that the financier also attended the year before.
"Any significant engagement with someone as odious as Epstein must be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly,'' Mr Rudd said.
"I have no recollection whatsoever of ever meeting Epstein. I have checked records around a function I attended in New York in late September 2013, when I was still a Member of Parliament, held in honour of the then President of Mongolia.
"It was a large function at the time of the UN General Assembly attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, visiting foreign ministers and prominent New Yorkers.
"The guest list also included: former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov; Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani."
At the time, Mr Epstein was already a convicted sex offender but continued to move in wealthy New York circles.
In 2005, police began investigating the financier after a parent complained he had sexually abused a 14 year old child.
He subsequently pleaded guilty and was convicted in 2008 by a Florida court of procuring an underage girl for prostitution and served 13 months in custody.
The conviction was part of a controversial plea deal, which did not involve prosecuting him over 36 girls that officials had identified as potential victims.
Despite this, he continued to have contact with Prince Andrew, the two men photographed in central park in 2010, after his release from prison.
Mr Epstein was known for cultivating networks with the rich and famous and even invited some friends to visit his island on a private jet known as the "Lolita Express."
Mr Rudd described the reports as "deeply disturbing" and revealed he planned to donate the money provided by Epstein to charities supporting victims of human trafficking and sexual assault. Mr Rudd is not paid for his role as chairman of the board.
The Norwegian report reveals that Mr Rød-Larsen authorised a payment of $US100,000 ($140,000) to Epstein for work relating to the Mongolian Advisory Board.
"I had dinner with Kevin yesterday evening, and he said we could keep his share," the email said.
"For form's sake we should send it to Jeff, however I am sure we will get it back many fold!" the email said.
Mr Rudd said his own advice was that Epstein did not receive remuneration for their work on the advisory board.
"Neither the loan, nor its repayment, had been previously disclosed to the Board or to me as Chair," he said.
"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.
"I will be recommending to the Board that an immediate and comprehensive probity review be conducted into the matters raised. Mr Rod-Larsen has apologised to the board for what he has described as his grave error of judgment."
Journalists from the Norwegian paper told The Daily Telegraph that they had been trying to get a response from Mr Rudd for more than a year.
Originally published as Rudd 'blindsided' by Epstein bombshell