Private Equity Titan Leon Black to Step Down as CEO After Report Finds He Paid Jeffrey Epstein $158 Million Through 2017

 

Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black

The CEO of massive private equity fund Apollo Global Management announced that he would step down from his position later in the year after an internal company probe found that he had made massive payments to Jeffrey Epstein in the years leading up to the latter’s arrest and imprisonment in 2019 for sex trafficking.

Per a report in the New York Times, Leon Black announced that he would give up the job of CEO — but remain as chairman — of Apollo, the financial firm he co-founded 30 years ago with Joshua Harris and Marc Rowan. That move came after he was found to have made $158 million in payments to the infamous convicted sex offender over five years, and as recently as 2017. Back in October, the Times had found payments by Black to Epstein totaling up to $75 million between 2012 and 2017. That reporting ignited an internal investigation by Apollo to detail the full scope of the CEO’s financial relationship with Epstein.

Neither the Times nor the company’s investigation found any link between Black and Epstein’s notorious and illegal sexual relationships. Epstein, instead, offered Black invaluable advice to lower his tax burden.

Mr. Black’s payments effectively bankrolled the lifestyle of Mr. Epstein — whom Mr. Black viewed as a “confirmed bachelor with eclectic tastes,” according to the report — in the years after his 2008 guilty plea in Florida to a prostitution charge involving a teenage girl.

[…]

The details of their financial dealings — Mr. Epstein’s advice was worth perhaps $2 billion in tax savings to Mr. Black, according to the report — created friction between Mr. Black and one of Apollo’s other founders, Joshua Harris, according to three people briefed on the discussions. In recent months, Apollo investors had begun openly questioning the financial ties between Mr. Black and Mr. Epstein, who died in 2019. One of the people said Mr. Harris believed that Mr. Black showed poor judgment in consorting with Mr. Epstein, and that the new findings would further hurt Apollo’s reputation.

The revelation of an even larger financial lifeline between Black and Epstein prompted a rebellion among the company’s leadership, with Harris pushing for the CEO to step down immediately so Rowan could take his place. Apollo’s board of directors reportedly show down that plan, however, and instead agreed to the longer time frame of succession Black wanted.

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