Apollo’s Leon Black details ties to Jeffrey Epstein, regrets past involvement

Leon Black, chairman and chief executive officer of Apollo Global ManagementPatrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesLeon Black, the billionaire chief executive of Apollo Global Management, on Thursday offered details on his ties to alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.Black, hoping to quell concerns among his investors and shareholders, said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call that Apollo never conducted business with Epstein.The CEO reiterated that he paid the financier millions of dollars annually to provide professional services to his family partnership “involving estate planning, tax, structuring of art entities and philanthropic advice” from 2012 to 2017.Though Black underscored that his firm had no dealings with Epstein, who had been accused of trafficking underage girls before his death by suicide in jail last year, the chief executive acknowledged that worries about his ties to the late financier are nonetheless disturbing the firm’s investors.Apollo’s stock fell 1.1% on Thursday and is down 15.2% over the last month.”This matter is now affecting Apollo, which my partners and I spent 30 years building. And it’s also causing deep pain for my family,” Black said on the call. “Knowing all that I have learned in the past two years about Epstein’s reprehensible and despicable conduct, I deeply regret having had any involvement with him. With the benefit of hindsight, working with him was a horrible mistake on my part.”He added that there is documentation of the work Epstein did for his family’s entities and that it was vetted by law firms, accounting firms and other advisors.”For that work, there exists substantial documentary support for the services provided,” Black said. “Let me be clear:¬†There has never been an allegation by anyone that I engaged in any wrongdoing, because I did not.¬†And any suggestion of blackmail or any other connection to Epstein’s reprehensible conduct is categorically untrue.”Board members seek reviewBlack’s explanation came after three Apollo board members last week hired a law firm to conduct an independent review of the CEO’s dealings with Epstein. Black said he asked for the review and is cooperating fully.The latest concerns among Apollo’s shareholders were sparked by a New York Times article Oct. 12, which stated that Black wired Epstein $50 million in the years after Epstein’s 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl. Two unnamed sources told the Times that the total amount sent by Black to Epstein could have been as high as $75 million.That article did not present any evidence that Black himself had participated in inappropriate behavior, though it nonetheless spooked some of Apollo’s public-pension investors. The chief executive said Thursday that he wasn’t aware of Epstein’s “sickening” conduct until it was reported in late 2006 that he was under investigation by state and federal authorities.Epstein later agreed to a federal nonprosecution agreement to resolve that investigation, pleading guilty the following year to two state prostitution counts.Following his release, Epstein returned to his financial advisory work and continued to associate with luminaries in finance, academia, science and government, Black said.”Like many other people I respected, I decided to give Epstein a second chance,” he said Thursday. “This was a terrible mistake. I wish I could go back in time and change that decision, but I cannot.”Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world

Show More

Related Articles