NEW YORK – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said Saturday that Joichi Ito had resigned as director of the MIT Media Lab amid concern over his financial ties with disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Ito, a Japanese national, had been under pressure to step down following revelations he’d accepted financial assistance from Epstein, who committed suicide in a New York prison last month while awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking.
According to The New York Times, Ito received $525,000 from Epstein for the lab and $1.2 million for his own investment funds.
In a statement issued on Aug. 15, Ito apologized for his ties with Epstein. While acknowledging receipt of financial aid from Epstein, Ito said, “I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of.”
Epstein, who had been found guilty of prostitution-related crimes, is known for his ties with political and business leaders, including Donald Trump before he became U.S. president.
The MIT Media Lab, set up in 1985, has Japanese companies as sponsors. In 2011, Ito became the first Japanese national to be appointed director of the lab.