- Leon Black is reaching out to investors of his large private equity firm, Apollo Global Management, about his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, according to a letter sent on Wednesday.
- Epstein, who was arrested last month on charges of sex trafficking including underage women as young as 14, had served as director of Black’s family foundation.
- Black has remained silent on the matter despite media reports. Now, as large investors in Apollo express concern about reputational damage, he is stressing that Epstein never did any business with Apollo.
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Billionaire private equity guru Leon Black is finally speaking out about his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, after investors in his private equity firm, Apollo Global Management, expressed concern about whether the firm will be affected by their ties.
In a letter to investors Wednesday evening, Black stressed that Apollo never did any business with Epstein, who was arrested on sex trafficking charges last month, and that his professional relationship with him was confined to Epstein’s role as director of his family foundation, which he said lasted between 2001 and 2007.
Black also said that he donated money to certain charitable organizations with which Epstein was affiliated and that Epstein made contributions to charities that were meaningful to Black, though he did not specify which ones.
"Neither Mr. Epstein nor any company controlled by him has ever invested any funds managed by Apollo," wrote Black in his letter.
The missive came after Apollo’s second-quarter earnings call Wednesday, when analyst Ken Worthington questioned Black about his relationship with Epstein, noting that investors had raised concern about the matter and the he had received "an elevated number of questions" about associated risk.
"I guess first, is there any link between Apollo and Epstein? Two, how is Apollo managing the fallout from potential executive ties to Epstein? And is it possible at all to ring-fence exposure here?" he said.
Apollo investor California Public Employees Retirement System had expressed some concern about Black’s relationship to Epstein, according to reports. CalPERS issued a statement to Bloomberg saying it took news of Black’s Epstein relationship "very seriously," as it does any issue, like reputational risk, if it affects a firm’s ability to be successful.
On the call, Black said that it would not affect the performance of Apollo.
He also read a memo he circulated to his own employees last week, which said, among other things, that he was "completely unaware of" and "deeply troubled" by the conduct that is now the subject of criminal charges brought against him.
Epstein was arrested July 6 on charges of trafficking dozens of girls, some as young as 14, in the early 2000s. He has pleaded not guilty.
Since then, questions have swirled in the business community about how Epstein, a tax advisor and investor, made his money and who may have known about what he is now charging with. Black is just one of a list of rich and powerful men who have been associated with Epstein. There has been no evidence that Black is tied to any wrongdoing.
Black’s Wednesday evening letter said that a recent press report suggested that he encouraged other Apollo executives to consider using Epstein for their personal tax or estate planning matters. (On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Black allowed Epstein to pitch his services to executives.)
"I never promoted Mr. Epstein’s services to other Apollo senior executives, and no other Apollo employee ever engaged Mr. Epstein or used his professional services," Black said.
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