In 2015, a former bodyguard for wealthy financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein spoke on the record with a reporter about a number of topics related to his former boss.
Earlier this week, former UFC fighter Igor Zinoviev gave another interview to that same reporter, M.L. Nestel. This time, he tried to walk back various parts of his prior interview, including statements regarding Epstein’s alleged relationships with teenage girls.
Epstein, of course, died over the weekend, with Attorney General William Barr describing his death as an “apparent suicide.”
Zinoviev “seemed, it is safe to say, quite nervous about saying anything at all,” Nestel wrote Wednesday for New York Magazine.
Zinoviev, who used to travel with Epstein to his properties in New Mexico, Palm Beach and the U.S. Virgin Islands, seemed to walk back much of what he previously told Nestel.
“In our conversation in 2015, you described his relationship with teenage girlfriends: ‘So many time I tried to stop him. I try to tell tell him my opinion about that. He don’t listen to me. That’s the reason why I’m not working for him no more. I make him do that — to let me go,'” Nestel says he told Zinoviev. “Do you remember saying that?”
Zinoviev appeared to take back his answer from four years ago.
“It’s not the teenage girls. I never see the teenage girls. I tell you I never see teenage girls,” he said. “Plenty of times when I work for him I never see anything unproper or teenage girls around him.”
Nestel continued pushing the issue. “So now you say you only saw him with women? Older than 18? 20?” he asked.
“All what I say he has always been with girlfriends and there was a couple girls — I don’t remember their names,” Zinoviev replied. “She was 25 and worked for him as assistant. Maybe 25 or 23 — whatever, I don’t know the age.”
“It’s not just teenage girls,” he added. “I never see teenage girls in my life at his house. That’s what it is. That’s a misunderstanding. Completely. That’s because — that’s what I’m saying.”
But that doesn’t sound like what he told Nestel in 2015.
“And when I mentioned Epstein was being exposed for messing with teenage girls, you said: ‘I’m not surprised at all. I’m just surprised how low he can be outside the real world,'” Nestel said.
Zinoviev claimed this is not what he said.
There were plenty of other noteworthy nuggets from the interview as well.
“Somebody helped him to do that,” Zinoviev said of Epstein’s alleged suicide.
But the interview came to end a quick end after Nestel said to Zinoviev: “You told me he would get phone calls the night before and eight o’clock the police are going to come. He would get a heads up from local police.”
“Don’t just — you can put yourself in big trouble,” Zinoviev replied.
Nestel kept pushing the issue, and Zinoviev reiterated his point. “Listen, don’t put yourself in trouble. Seriously,” he said.
Nestel eventually asked: “Are you worried about the local cops?” But he didn’t get a straight response.
“Listen, you’re really smart and I’m not going to offer that over the phone right now, OK? You’re really smart. You have no idea. Please!” Zinoviev said.
“I can’t explain you over the phone any of this,” he added.
Zinoviev claimed he had to get off the phone, so Nestel asked for his email.
“Don’t do any kind of that stuff,” Zinoviev replied.
It’s worth noting in the context of Zinoviev’s head-scratching interview that while officials have said it appears Epstein died by suicide, not everyone is buying it.
With Epstein’s connections to various powerful men in mind, some have claimed Epstein was killed to prevent him from spilling his secrets. There is no evidence that this is true.
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