Who is Leon Black? The latest name tied to Jeffrey Epstein
Leon Black is the latest businessman to be connected to Jeffrey Epstein. The chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of the equity firm Apollo Global Management has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Virgin Islands’ attorney general due to his long-standing business ties with the late Epstein.
Black and Epstein’s dealings date back three decades. Epstein was one of the original trustees of the Debra and Leon Black Family Foundation, which Black co-founded in 1997. Epstein remained a trustee until 2001, but Crain’s New York claimed that his name remained on the foundation’s disclosure forms until 2012. A spokeswoman for Black chalked the confusion up to an administrative error.
Black and Epstein’s professional relationship continued to flourish after Epstein was arrested for soliticing sex with a minor in 2008. In 2015, a company under the Black foundation donated $10 million to one of Epstein’s charitable organizations. Harvard University claimed that Black also made a $5 million donation to the MIT Media Lab at Epstein’s urging.
Black recently sent out a memo to his employees in which he clarified his relationship with Epstein. “On a few occasions, I donated money to certain charitable organizations with which Mr. Epstein was affiliated and he made contributions to certain charitable organizations that are meaningful to me,” he wrote.
The businessman stated that Epstein would give advice on the taxes, estate planning, and philanthropic endeavors of his family partnership. He claimed that he was unaware of Epstein’s activities outside of their dealings. “I was completely unaware of, and am deeply troubled by, the conduct that is now the subject of the federal criminal charges brought against Mr. Epstein,” he added.
Black’s equity firm has also come under fire for its Epstein connections. According to The New York Times, Black and Apollo Global paid millions to Epstein’s Southern Trust Company in the Virgin Islands. Southern Trust collected $184 million between 2013 and 2018, though it remains unclear how much of that money came from Black and Apollo Global, respectively.
A spokesperson for Apollo Global Management stated that the firm never made deals with Epstein beyond their payments to Southern Trust. “Apollo never did any business with Mr. Epstein at any point in time,” they explained. Furthermore, Black has said the negative press regarding Epstein has not hindered Apollo Global’s relationship with investors.
“The tsunami of press attention is not affecting our relationship with investors,” Black said during Apollo Global’s earnings call.“Despite a continued volatile market backdrop during the second quarter, Apollo once again delivered strong growth for our investors, reinforcing the value of our integrated global investment platform.
Virgin Islands district attorney Denise N. George seeks to confiscate millions of dollars from Epstein’s estates in the Virgin Islands, which include the private islands Little St. James and Great St. James. The private islands are collectively valued at $86 million.
George has subpoenaed Black as a means of unraveling the source of Epstein’s $600 million net worth. The subpoenas call for Black’s tax returns, which were filed by the Black Family Partners and Elysium Management. The latter oversees the majority of Black’s $9 billion fortune.
George is also issuing subpoenas to Apollo Global and the various banks that handled Epstein’s money, including JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank. “The [lawsuit] speaks for itself,” she told reporters. “[It] lays out allegations of a pattern and practice of human trafficking, sexual abuse and forced labor of young women and female children as young as 13 years old.”
“The conduct of Jeffrey Epstein and his associates shocks the conscience and betrays the deepest principles and laws of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” George added. “The Virgin Islands is not, and will not, be a safe haven for human trafficking or sexual exploitation.”