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The news of the shooting of the husband and son of Esther Salas, the judge recently assigned to oversee the Jeffrey Epstein – Deutsche Bank case, caused shock and confusion while also bringing renewed scrutiny to the Epstein scandal just a week after Epstein’s main co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, was denied bail in a separate case.
The case Salas is set to oversee is a class action lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank investors who allege that Deutsche Bank “failed to properly monitor customers that the Bank itself deemed to be high risk, including, among others, the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.” The case came after the New York state Department of Financial Services had settled with Deutsche Bank over the bank’s failure to cut ties with Epstein-linked accounts, resulting in Deutsche Bank paying a $150 million fine. Deutsche Bank, unlike other financial institutions, failed to close all of its accounts linked to Epstein until less than a month prior to his arrest last year, even though the bank had identified him as “high risk” years before.
Beyond the tragedy of Sunday’s shooting, which claimed the life of Salas’ only child, the quick discovery of the death of the main suspect, Roy Den Hollander, of a “self-inflicted” gunshot to the head before he could be arrested or questioned by authorities has led to speculation that there is more to the official narrative of the crime than meets the eye.
With law enforcement sources now claiming that Esther Salas was not the intended target of the attack and some media reports now suggesting that Den Hollander’s motive was related to his dislike of feminism, it appears there are efforts underway to distance Sunday’s tragic shooting from Salas’ recent assignment to the Epstein case, which occurred just four days before the tragic shooting.
The most likely reason for any such “damage control” effort lies in the fact that both U.S. law enforcement investigations and mainstream media reports have consistently downplayed the connections of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual trafficking and financial crimes to intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Israel. Similarly, Roy Den Hollander previously worked for a New York firm has been described as a “private CIA” with ties to those countries’ intelligence agencies and, also, ties to Deutsche Bank.
A Private CIA
According to his website, Den Hollander once worked for Kroll Associates Moscow Office, where he “managed and upgraded Kroll’s delivery of intelligence and security in the former Soviet Union” from 1999 to 2000. A few years prior, Kroll had won a considerable bid from the Russian government to locate money allegedly “spirited out of the country by the directors of state enterprises when they realized that privatization was inevitable.” The Kroll executives in charge of the Russian portfolio prior to Den Hollander were E. Norbett Garrett, a former CIA station chief in Cairo and Kuwait, and Joseph Rosetti, former chief of security for IBM. During that period and prior to his hiring at Kroll, Den Hollender worked as a lawyer in Russia regarding “legal and business issues, including international financing and marketing” and married a Russian woman he met during his time there that he subsequently claimed was part of the “Russian mafia.”
Founded by Jules Kroll in 1972, Kroll Associates would later become known as the “CIA of Wall Street” and “Wall Street’s Private Eye” and was alleged to be an actual front for the CIA by French intelligence agencies, according to theWashington Post. Part of the reason for this nickname, which was once a boasting point for top Kroll executives, owes to the fact that the firm frequently hired former CIA and FBI officers, as well as former members of MI6 and Mossad. K2 Intelligence, the successor to Kroll Associates founded by Jules Kroll and his son Jeremy in 2009, has similar hiring practices, counting former FBI and NSA officials among its ranks alongside former high-ranking members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency. Kroll also boasted ties to the Bush family, with Jonathan Bush (George Bush Sr.’s brother) serving on its corporate advisory board, and Kroll was also employed by Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign.
Though it is mainly involved in corporate security and investigations, Kroll has also frequently investigated targets of Washington foreign policy, including Saddam Hussein, and was also the company tapped to “reorganize” Enron in 2002. Kroll Associates also has long been a subject of scrutiny for those that question the official narrative on the attacks of September 11, 2001, given that the company was put in charge of security for the World Trade Center complex from 1993 bombing up through the 2001 attacks and has no shortage of ties to companies and individuals that profited from the attacks. Kroll itself experienced a “surge in business” following the events of 9/11, a day when its top executives all avoided going to work despite ostensibly providing security for the complex.
A similar “surge in business” for Kroll followed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq after the company’s investigations into Saddam Hussein’s and the Bath Party’s finances had been used as partial justification for the military incursion. Kroll became a major provider of mercenaries along with companies like Blackwater and DynCorp to the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation through its subsidiary Kroll Security International. Its clients included the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has long fronted for the CIA, and also provided mercenaries for the war in Afghanistan.
Kroll executives over the years have commented to the press on their reputation as a “private CIA” and have also noted the advantages of being a “private” as opposed to “public” intelligence agency. For instance, E. Norbett Garrett, the former CIA official turned Kroll executive, told The New Yorker in 2009 the following:
“Garrett explained the disparity between what Kroll could do and what the C.I.A. could in a place like Sudan. “They have to rely on public and covert sources,” he said. “But we can go straight to Salah Idris. He’s our client, after all. We can go straight to his friends. We can be manipulated, of course, shown incomplete information, and sometimes we have to walk away from a case if we don’t trust somebody. But we definitely have some advantages.”
Kroll Associates and the Epstein Network
Aside from Kroll Associates’ own role as a private intelligence firm, it is also worth pointing out that Jules Kroll had an odd meeting with Robert Maxwell, Ghislaine Maxwell’s father, shortly before his death, alleged by most Maxwell biographers and his family to have been a homicide. Roughly two weeks before his death, Kroll met with Maxwell at New York’s Helmsley Palace Hotel. According to a 1992 article in Vanity Fair, “Maxwell had ushered Kroll and two other men out onto the patio so that their conversation could not be overheard or bugged,” with Maxwell allegedly seeking to hire Kroll to uncover “people out to get him, to destroy his empire, to cripple him financially, and to destroy his life and business in any way they could.”
The article further notes that “the meeting broke up with Maxwell’s promising that he would send Kroll what he called “a memorandum of suspicions and unexplained events.” “Maxwell was working on this compendium,” said the [anonymous] participant [in the meeting], “when he met his death.” Kroll Associates was never formally hired.”
Much more recently Kroll came under scrutiny after being hired by disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein alongside the “private Mossad for hire” firm Black Cube. Weinstein had been instructed to hire Black Cube by Ehud Barak, the former Israeli military intelligence head and Israeli Prime Minister with close ties to Jeffrey Epstein and a frequent visitor of Epstein’s residences. Weinstein hired Kroll to harass and cyberstalk women who had accused him of sexual assault. Weinstein was a one-time business partner of Jeffrey Epstein’s and the testimony of Epstein victim Maria Farmer strongly implies that Ghislaine Maxwell and Epstein “shared” women, and potentially underage girls, with the film producer. The Daily Beast later reported that Epstein had used his ties to Weinstein to impress and recruit potential victims and at least one of those victims landed a role in a film produced by a Weinstein-owned company due to Epstein’s ties to Weinstein.
In addition, Kroll’s long-time executive Vice President for Operations, James Bucknam, was previously chief adviser to former FBI director Louis Freeh and is now CEO of the Freeh Group. Freeh has since become notorious for having been hired by Epstein associate, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, to “investigate” the Epstein scandal, and was also involved in the cover-up of the Penn State child molestation and abuse scandal. Freeh was also director of the FBI when the Bureau declined to investigate accusations regarding Leslie Wexner, Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein and their involvement in the sex trafficking of minors, first reported to the FBI in 1996 by Maria Farmer.
The Kroll – Deutsche Bank “Revolving Door”
After “retiring” from Kroll associates, Jules Kroll created a credit-rating agency, a field he had called just years earlier “a heck of a racket.” Named the Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA), the firm was envisioned by Kroll as a “credit-rating agency on steroids,” but has failed to make a dent in the market shares of the so-called “Big Three” credit-rating agencies: Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service, and Fitch Ratings.
Though it hasn’t managed to become a dominant force in credit ratings, KBRA has managed to be profitable and to have produced something of a “revolving door” between its senior management and Deutsche Bank executives. For instance, KBRA’s top executive in Europe, Mauricio Noé, had previously been a Managing Director of Deutsche Bank’s London branch. In another example, Vice President for Credit Structuring at Deutsche Bank in New York, Ian Ross, was previously employed by KBRA and Yee Cent Wong, managing director of KBRA for CMBS, was previously Vice President of the Credit Solutions Group at Deutsche Bank Securities. Another managing director of KBRA, Bill Baneky, had previously served as Deutsche Bank’s Vice President and National Relationship Manager. One of KBRA’s senior managing directors, Rosemary Kelley, is also a former Deutsche Bank Vice President, while another, Ken Kockenmeister, was Deutsche Bank’s Director for Large Loan Securitization and Underwriting.
While they may not be the “biggest” credit-rating agency, KBRA analysts and executives frequently speak to media outlets where they comment on the state of various businesses, Deutsche Bank among them. Given the amount of overlap between Deutsche Bank and KBRA, it is unsurprising that KBRA has lobbied in the press on Deutsche’s behalf. For instance, KBRA analyst Christopher Whalen told Business Insider in 2016 that “The problem with Deutsche Bank may be the end of Merkel’s career,” adding that “The question is does she want to be remembered for doing the right thing — which is to provide support for the bank and diffuse the situation — or does she want to be remembered for standing by when one of the largest banks in Europe failed?”
Jeffrey Epstein’s Links to Deutsche Bank
Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to Deutsche Bank go back decades, and potentially earlier. After working for Bear Stearns earlier in his career and then as a so-called “financial bounty hunter” with ties to intelligence-linked arms dealers and Wall Street, Epstein set up a Ponzi scheme with Steve Hoffenberg called Tower Financial, which collapsed in 1993 and subsequently landed Hoffenberg 20 years in prison. Epstein’s name, despite being a clear co-conspirator, was suspiciously dropped from the case during the trial. Hoffenberg subsequently alleged that Epstein used his ill-gotten gains from Tower Financial alongside a series of suspect loans from Deutsche Bank to create his investment company.
Hoffenberg subsequently told The Observer the following:
“His lead bank is Deutsche Bank, Germany, that runs the lead on his financial trust company. They run the platform in the trading of the currencies for Epstein and with Epstein. He’s never disclosed to the investors that provide the money to Deutsche Bank his true legacy, that’s securities fraud.”
Following that point, Epstein’s financial activities, aside from his Deutsche Bank-enabled investment vehicle, were publicly conducted through Bear Stearns (until its 2008 collapse) and J.P. Morgan. When J.P. Morgan dropped Epstein as a client, he again turned to Deutsche Bank in 2013, becoming a client of the bank’s private wealth division in New York. Anti-money laundering compliance officers at the bank’s branches in New York and Florida subsequently flaggedEpstein’s accounts in 2015, in 2016 and again in 2019, creating suspicious activity reports regarding the movements of large amounts of funds tied to Epstein-linked accounts outside of the U.S.
However, the bank did not fully terminate their relationship with Epstein until June 2019, just a few weeks prior to his arrest last year. Epstein was believed to have dozens of accounts with the bank at one point and those accounts were shut down slowly over a period of several months beginning in late 2018.
Ties that Bind
The narrative emerging that Den Hollander was motivated to kill Esther Salas’ husband and sons due to his hatred of feminism is a rapid attempt to explain away a story that clearly warrants further investigation, albeit into avenues that mainstream media and powerful individuals in the public and private sectors prefer remain untouched.
As the heinous act targeting the Salas family has shown, individuals with a lot to lose are willing to go to the farthest extremes to keep the ties of Epstein to the financial sector and to intelligence out of sight and out of mind. Indeed, just last December, Epstein’s personal banker at Deutsche Bank, Thomas Bowers, the chief of Deutsche Bank’s Private Wealth Management division in New York from 2012 to 2015, was found dead in his home. His death was quickly ruled a suicide by hanging. Bowers had also signed off on “unorthodox” loans, not just for Epstein, but Donald Trump, who has his own ties to the Epstein scandal.
While some have been quick to point out that Trump (as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner) could stand to lose from potential revelations in the Epstein-Deutsche Bank trial, there are other key power-brokers tied to both Epstein and Deutsche Bank who could also be feeling the heat. For instance, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who became close to Epstein in the early 1990s and subsequently connected him to the Clinton White House and later to Alan Dershowitz, is intimately involved in the Deutsche Bank Microfinance Consortium.
Aside from Epstein’s use of the money, Deutsche Bank has been notorious for years as a cesspool of money laundering for organized crime networks, paying $14.5 billion in fines in just seven years for official action taken against the bank by several governments. It is highly likely that the brutality of what happened outside the Salas family home on Sunday is more related to Deutsche Bank than Epstein, as numerous powerful individuals have ties to the embattled bank.
Even the recent move by Attorney General William Barr to remove SDNY District Attorney Geoffrey Berman from his post appears to be more related to Berman’s efforts to investigate Deutsche Bank than the Epstein scandal, as some have alleged. This is because Barr’s new pick for Berman’s old job counts Deutsche Bank among his former clients and notably defended the bank in a recent anti-money laundering probe, whereas Berman was investigating the bank (albeit for political reasons that took aim at the bank’s dealings with Trump).
While Epstein’s egregious and criminal actions targeting minors have now become public knowledge, in role in facilitating white collar crime, money laundering and financial frauds on behalf of corporations, governments and oligarchs remains sorely under-covered, despite his role in such activities preceding and continuing after his involvement in an intelligence-linked sexual blackmail operation.
It arguably remains one of the key components of the Epstein scandal, yet the most poorly understood and most under-investigated. If anything, the tragic events at the Salas family home on Sunday, and what appears to be a rapid yet shoddy cover-up of the shooter’s ties to Kroll Associates and actual motives, reveal that Epstein’s financial ties are more frightening to certain powerful individuals and institutions than his trove of sexual blackmail.