A new book claims Jeffrey Epstein played a key role in a shady Palm Beach real estate deal between President Donald Trump and a Russian oligarch.
Michael Wolff's forthcoming book, "Siege," details the 2004 property deal that involved the future president, Deutsche Bank, a child predator and an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, reported The Guardian.
According to Wolff's account, Epstein showed his friend Trump a $55 million mansion he planned to buy, but Trump instead went behind his back to buy the foreclosed property for about $40 million.
Epstein didn't believe Trump could raise that much money on his own, through an entity called Trump Properties LLC that was entirely financed by Deutsche Bank, Wolff wrote.
The billionaire financier knew Trump had been loaning out his name in real estate deals for a fee, and he suspected the freshly minted reality TV star was fronting for the mansion's real owners.
Epstein threatened to expose the deal until he found himself under investigation by Palm Beach police for child sex abuse and human trafficking, and he eventually served 13 months in county jail as part of a controversial plea agreement brokered by Trump's future Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.
Trump later put the mansion on the market for $125 million, despite making only minor improvements to the property.
It was purchased for $96 million by Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Kremlin-linked industrialist -- which meant Trump made $55 million on the deal despite risking none of his own money.
Wolff offers two possible theories for the deal.
The author suspects that Trump may have earned a fee for hiding a shadow owner who possibly was funneled cash by Rybolovlev for reasons beyond the property's value.
Or, Wolff theorizes, Rybolovlev essentially bought the house from himself, with Trump as an intermediary, to launder ill-gotten money.
“This,” Wolff wrote, “was Donald Trump’s world of real estate.”
Rybolovlev tore down the mansion in 2016 and sold off the property as three lots for less than the $115 million he had invested in it.