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BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES

Steven Mnuchin’s Mysterious Link to Creepy Epstein Model Scout

The treasury secretary’s name shows up on official records for a company formed in the 1980s by Jeffrey Epstein’s close friend, the model scout Jean-Luc Brunel.

Emily Shugerman9.15.19 8:00 PM ET

In the late 1980s—before he was a member of Donald Trump’s Cabinet, or even a high rolling hedge fund manager—Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin served in an official capacity for a business run by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s most infamous associates. 

In official records, Mnuchin is listed as the official state point of contact for Next Management Corporation, a company formed in 1988 by modeling-industry insiders Jean-Luc Brunel and Arnaud Brunel. At the time, Jean-Luc Brunel had just been the subject of a 60 Minutes documentary accusing him of drugging and raping at least three models. Later, he would be accused by two women of supplying girls to Epstein to be sexually abused. (Brunel has denied the allegations.)

Records accessed by The Daily Beast list Mnuchin as the New York Department of State process for Next Management Corporation. According to department officials, the DOS process is the person who files a company’s registration papers and receives lawsuits and other official documents on their behalf—usually a lawyer or some other legal representative.

A Treasury Department official said Mnuchin did not know he was listed as the DOS process for Next Management Corp. before The Daily Beast’s inquiry. He said it was “not clear” how Mnuchin wound up serving in that role and added that the secretary did not recall ever meeting either Brunel brother and has never done business with either of them. 

Mnuchin’s office did confirm that he was longtime friends with Faith Kates, the owner of Next modeling agency. The Brunel brothers co-founded the Next agency with Kates in 1989, and their company, Next Management Corp., owned a 25 percent stake in the agency for several years. The address listed under Mnuchin’s name in State Department records is the first address for Kates’ company, Next Management Company.

Reached by The Daily Beast, Kates denied any involvement with setting up Next Management Corporation and said she had nothing to do with Mnuchin serving as the DOS process. 

“Ms. Kates was never involved with Next Management Corp. in any way,” a spokesperson said. “Given that, she never designated anyone, including Sec. Mnuchin, to be a DOS process or any officer or director of Next Management Corp.”

The spokesperson added that Kates’ agency sued Next Management Corp. 25 years ago, over allegations that the Brunel brothers had “raided” the agency, and said Kates has not had any contact with them since then. She said Kates had “no knowledge” of why her company’s address was listed in official records for Next Management Corp.

Kates has her own connections to Epstein, as The Daily Beast previously reported. Former employees say the financier regularly dropped in on the agency’s New York offices, and tax filings show he donated tens of thousands of dollars to charities connected to Kates and her family. At least two former Next models have been romantically linked to Epstein, and a third appears in his infamous address book. 

A spokesperson for Kates said neither she nor the Next agency had any business or financial ties to Epstein and that Kates never introduced the financier to any models.

Mnuchin has been friends with Kates for approximately 30 years, according to the Treasury Department official, and once helped Kates set up a business “as a friend.” A spokesperson for Kates confirmed the two had been friendly for decades. She said Mnuchin had offered Kates business advice when she started Next Management Company and served as her real estate broker.

Mnuchin’s spokesperson said the secretary had no ownership in any of Kates’ businesses or served them in any business capacity.

The Daily Beast was unable to reach Jean-Luc or Arnaud Brunel for comment. The ties between Jean-Luc Brunel and Epstein, however, have been widely reported. Flight records show Brunel flew on the financier’s private plane more than 20 times between 1999 and 2005, and house staff said in depositions that the modeling agent was a regular presence at Epstein’s Palm Beach estate. When Epstein was arrested in 2008, Brunel visited him nearly 70 times in jail.

One of Epstein’s first public accusers, Virginia Roberts (now Giuffre), claimed Epstein forced her to sleep with Brunel and many other powerful men in the years he kept her as his “sex slave.” She also accused Brunel of using his modeling industry connections to supply Epstein and other wealthy men with foreign girls to abuse.

A former bookkeeper for one of Brunel’s agencies told the FBI in 2010 that Brunel used the company to bring in teenage models from around the world, and housed them in Epstein’s Upper East Side apartments. The bookkeeper claimed the girls were loaned out to wealthy clients for up to $100,000 a night and were not paid if they refused to be “molested.” 

French authorities are currently seeking Brunel as part of their probe into Epstein, and recently interviewed two women who say they were victims of the modeling agent in the late 1970s and early ’80s, according to French newspaper Le Parisien.

Brunel has denied all claims of sexual misconduct, as well as any knowledge of Epstein’s wrongdoings. In legal filings, he said the former bookkeeper had been fired from his agency for embezzling company funds.

“I strongly deny having participated, neither directly nor indirectly, in the actions Mr. Jeffrey Epstein is being accused of,” Brunel said in a 2015 statement. “I strongly deny having committed any illicit act or any wrongdoing in the course of my work as a scouter or model agencies manager.”

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