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Epstein may've tried to extort Gates over extramarital affair: Report

According to documents reviewed by the Journal, Antonova wanted to establish an online bridge tutorial business and was attempting to secure funds

Bill Gates has criticized crypto before, sparring with Elon Musk last year over whether Bitcoin is too risky for retail investors. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Bill Gates has criticized crypto before, sparring with Elon Musk last year over whether Bitcoin is too risky for retail investors. (Photo: Bloomberg)

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The convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein appeared to threaten Bill Gates and tried to blackmail the multi-billionaire over his extramarital affair with a Russian bridge player, according to a new report published by the Wall Street Journal. The report said that sources familiar with the matter informed that Epstein threatened Gates and said that he would make his relationship with Mila Antonova public if he didn’t pay up.
 
Epstein pressured Gates to reimburse him for tuition costs that the former had initially covered for Antonova to attend software coding school. Epstein became acquainted with her in 2013.
 
Speaking to the Journal, sources said that after Epstein found out about the Gates’s affair with Mila Antonova and blackmailed Gates in the form of an email in 2017 after he failed to convince him to join a multibillion-dollar charity fund that he attempted to set up with JPMorgan Chase.
 
Gates first met the woman around 2010. In a 2010 YouTube video, Antonova recounted a tournament that she played with Gates, saying: “I didn’t beat him, but I tried to kick him with my leg.”
 
According to documents reviewed by the Journal, Antonova wanted to establish an online bridge tutorial business and was attempting to secure funds. 
 
Through Boris Nikolic, a close Gates adviser, Antonova was introduced to Epstein to help her raise funds for her initiative, which sought to “promote bridge by creating quality tutorials for beginners and advanced players”. Antonova and Nikolic met Epstein at his townhouse in November 2013 in New York, where she sought $500,000 for her initiative. But,  Epstein did not invest.
 
Antonova, in a statement to the Journal, said she didn’t know who Epstein was when they met. “I had no idea that he was a criminal or had any ulterior motive”.  “I just thought he was a successful businessman and wanted to help. I am disgusted with Epstein and what he did.” She declined to comment about Gates.
 
During the time Antonova was looking to set up her initiative, Epstein was also trying to set up his own fund. According to documents reviewed by the Journal, Epstein was attempting to establish his charitable fund, which would require ultra-wealthy individuals to make a minimum $100 million contribution and pay him millions of dollars in fees.
 
The fund was supposed to be a way for Epstein to rebuild his reputation after he was forced to register as a sex offender and had pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. Documents reviewed showed that Epstein’s fund was contingent upon obtaining support from Gates.
 
In emails sent to JP Morgan executives, Epstein tried to come off as a close adviser to Gates, despite not including the Microsoft co-founder in the emails, which the Journal reviewed.
 
“In essence, this [fund] will allow Bill to have access to higher quality people, investment, allocation, governance without upsetting either his marriage or the sensitvities [sic] of the current foundation employees,” Epstein wrote in an email in August 2011.
 
He followed up the next day, writing: “Bill is terribly frustrated. He [would] like to boost some of the things that are working without taking away from thoses [sic] that are not.” Two months later, Epstein sent another email after the firm prepared a presentation on the project, writing, “the presentation, is not tailored to [Bill].

He is the only person, the only one, that counts.”The Journal quoted a Gates spokesperson as saying that Epstein never worked for Gates and “misrepresented their ties in communications with JPMorgan and others”.

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First Published: May 22 2023 | 10:43 PM IST

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