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Joichi Ito resigns from MIT!  Joichi Ito resigns from MIT at a point where scrutiny over Jeffrey Epstein is intensifying.  Joichi Ito was the head of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Logo of the MIT Media Lab, an interdisciplinary research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Logo of the MIT Media Lab, an interdisciplinary research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

The New Yorker broke the story last Friday that Ito and the MIT Media Lab – hosts of a number of innovation programs including a Digital Currency Initiative – had accepted donations from Epstein even though Epstein was on the university’s “disqualified” donor list.  They further attempted to keep the source of the funds a secret.

Ito had disclosed last Wednesday that he had accepted $525,000 from Epstein for the lab as well as $1.2 million for his investment funds.

The New Yorker found out via MIT Emails, however, that show Ito apparently veiling the donations from the university and the public.  Ito penned one message stating: “Make sure this gets accounted for as anonymous.”

The links between Epstein and the MIT Lab were well known – to the point where he was referred to as “he must not be named” amongst staff – a trope from the Harry Potter universe in reference to Villain Lord Voldemort.

Epstein was influential in encouraging others to back the lab, including Leon Black and Bill Gates.  When Bill Gates made a $2 million dollar contribution, Peter Cohen, the lab’s then Director of Development and Strategy, reportedly said in an MIT Email:

“This is a $2M gift from Bill Gates directed by Jeffrey Epstein.  For gift recording purposes, we will not be mentioning Jeffrey’s name as the impetus for this gift.”

A Gates spokesperson denied that Epstein had a role in directing any funding by the Microsoft Billionaire.

Ito has since resigned since last Friday’s bombshell report, with MIT President L. Rafael Reif saying to the MIT community:

“Because the accusations in the story are extremely serious, they demand an immediate, thorough and independent investigation.  This morning, I asked MIT’s General Counsel to engage a prominent law firm to design and conduct this process.”

Ito has reportedly stepped down from other positions, like the MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The New York Times Company, as well as a visiting professorship at Harvard, according to the New York Times.  It is not clear if this scandal will affect current lab programs like the Digital Currency Initiative.

What do you think?  Epstein’s suicide has ramped up controversy and we’re still feeling the effects of Epstein and those who associated with him.  While the industry keeps moving forward, it seems like everytime we move two steps, we’re pushed back one!  Let us know what you think on our Facebook page!

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