Billionaire investor Leon Black, who was accused of paying Jeffrey Epstein $75million for ‘professional services’ said Thursday that he’s stepping down as CEO of Apollo Global Management after an internal investigation found that he paid the financier $148million in advisory fees.
The company announced Monday that Black had informed the board of directors that ‘he will retire as CEO effective on or before July 31, 2021 consistent with best-in-class governance practices’. Black will be succeeded by Marc Rowan.
According to a separate
‘The findings of the report are consistent with statements made by Mr Black and Apollo regarding the prior relationship,’ the company said.
The probe, which was conducted by law firm Dechert, ‘found no evidence that Mr Black was involved in any way with Mr Epstein’s criminal activities at any time’.
However, the investigation did find that Black paid Epstein $148million in advisory fees and donated $10million to Epstein’s charity, though it was previously reported that Black transferred between $50million and $75million to Epstein for ‘professional services’.
Billionaire investor Leon Black who was accused of paying Jeffrey Epstein $75million for ‘professional services’ has stepped down from his position as the chief executive officer of Apollo Global Management after an internal investigation
According to a separate announcement from the company, Apollo said it found no evidence that Black was guilty of any wrongdoings in his past relationship with Epstein (pictured), a convicted sex offender who hanged himself in jail in 2019
The findings were revealed Thursday just months after Black requested the company’s Conflicts Committee to ‘retain outside counsel to conduct an independent and thorough review’.
The committee retained Dechert, which found that ‘Apollo never retained Epstein for any services and Epstein never invested in any Apollo-managed funds’.
In addition to that finding, Dechert said that ‘Epstein regularly advised Mr Black on trust and estate planning, tax issues, philanthropic endeavors, and the operation of his Family Office’ and that ‘all fees paid to Mr Epstein by Mr Black or his Family Office were for bona fide tax, estate planning and other related services, and the amounts were intended to be proportional to the value provided by Mr Epstein’.
Last year, Black denied allegations that Epstein blackmailed him for millions of dollars over the last decade, saying such claims were ‘categorically untrue’.
Several investors in Apollo’s funds expressed concerns as much of the payments to Epstein came after his 2008 conviction for procuring an underage girl for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute.
‘Let me be clear, there has never been an allegation by anyone that I engaged in any wrongdoing, because I did not,’ said Black.
‘Any suggestion of blackmail, or any other connection to Epstein’s reprehensible conduct, is categorically untrue.’
Financial documents showed that Black gave $10million to one of Epstein’s foundations in 2015 alone.
A payment of $22.5million in 2017 was transferred from BV70 LLC, a company that reportedly owned Black’s yacht, to Plan D, a company that managed Epstein’s Gulfstream jet, the Times reported.
In 2014, Epstein reportedly received millions of dollars in fees from Narrows Holdings, a company Black had used to buy a large chunk of his billion-dollar art collection, according to the newspaper.
Black said he first met Epstein two decades ago, when the latter was advising prominent clients, including several heads of state, Nobel laureates, and even a US treasury secretary.
The 69-year-old private equity veteran said he was not aware of Epstein’s criminal conduct until media reports surfaced in late 2006 of US and Florida investigations into Epstein.
Black said that in 2012, three years after Epstein got out of jail following his prostitution conviction, he retained Epstein for ‘personal estate planning, tax structuring and philanthropic advice’ because of ‘misplaced comfort’ in the ‘distinguished reputations’ of the individuals in high society that Epstein continued to associate with.
‘This was a terrible mistake. Had I known any of the facts about Epstein’s sickening and repulsive conduct, which I learned in late 2018, more than a year after I stopped working with them I never would have had anything to do with him,’ Black said last year.
Pictured (left to right): Jeffrey Epstein, Pepe Fanjul and Leon Black attend Sony Pictures Classics Presents CAPOTE hosted by Dominick Dunne at Sony Screening Room on September 28, 2005 in New York City
Epstein and Black are said to have known each other since at least 1996 and they are reported to have regularly met up for lunches and dinners. Leon Black and Debra Black pictured in November 2017 in New York City
Epstein was awaiting trial at the Metropolitan Correctional Center jail in New York City when he committed suicide by hanging inside his jail cell in August 2019.
He was held on sex trafficking charges of minors in Florida and New York from 2002 to 2005. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and maintained his innocence until the end.
His alleged ‘madam,’ Ghislaine Maxwell, is currently detained in a Brooklyn prison cell awaiting trial for six federal crimes, including enticement of minors and sex trafficking.
Recently, Maxwell’s family launched a campaign to get her out of jail, claiming she’s lost considerable weight and her human rights were violated.
The figures Black reportedly transferred help shed some light on how Epstein died with a net worth estimated at $634million despite his imprisonment. But it is not clear exactly what role Epstein played to receive such large sums of money; he had no formal legal or tax training.
In January, US Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George sued the estate, seeking claims on behalf of victims he raped and trafficked on a private Caribbean island.
Black has said he intends to cooperate with the US Virgin Islands inquiry and any other investigation.
As news of Black’s financial transactions with Epstein emerged, Apollo took an immediate hit, forcing Black to send a letter to investors in which he confirmed paying Epstein ‘millions of dollars annually for his work’.
He also confirmed a family picnic in 2012 with the disgraced financier on his private island residence in the US Virgin Islands, dubbed Pedophile Island.
As concerns over the pair’s involvement grew, Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System halted investments with the $414billion private equity group.
Epstein and Black are said to have known each other since at least 1996 and they are reported to have regularly met up for lunches and dinners.
Under a 2008 non-prosecution agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida of solicitation of prostitution involving a minor and another similar prostitution charge.
That allowed him to avoid federal prosecution and a possible life sentence, instead serving 13 months in a work-release program. He was required to make payments to victims and register as a sex offender.
In 2018, Black and Epstein were said to have cut ties over ‘a fee dispute’. In 2019, following Epstein’s arrest for sex trafficking, Black, who is the chairman of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), said he had a ‘limited relationship’ with the disgraced financier.
Epstein was known for hobnobbing with the rich, famous and influential, including presidents and a prince.
He owned a private island in the Caribbean, homes in Paris and New York City, a New Mexico ranch, and a fleet of high-price cars. His friends had once included Britain’s Prince Andrew, former President Bill Clinton and former president Donald Trump.