Forbes.com | Oct 29, 2020
Private equity billionaire Leon Black revealed other past financial clients of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein (without naming names) during a Thursday earnings call for his firm, Apollo Global Management, long after Epstein’s only other known client was former L Brands CEO and chairman Les Wexner, and shedding some light on who likely paid Epstein for his financial advice.
- According to Black, Epstein’s other clients included: a U.S. Treasury secretary, heads of state, Nobel laureates and prominent philanthropists, but he did not reveal anyone by name.
- Black, whose net worth Forbes estimates at $7.5 billion, repeated some of his previous statements on Epstein, including that he “deeply regret[s] having any involvement with him” and that Apollo never did any business with Epstein.
- Black more recently came under fire for revelations first reported October 12 by the New York Times that he paid Epstein $50 million from, as Black said Thursday, 2012 to 2017, for estate planning, tax, philanthropic and other personal financial advice.
- The private equity tycoon has faced questions about his Epstein dealings since the financier was arrested in July 2019 on federal sex trafficking charges.
- Black said Thursday he chose to work with Epstein following his 2009 release from a Florida county jail on a single prostitution charge, saying, “I decided to give Epstein a second chance, this was a terrible mistake.”
- Apollo’s stock price has dropped about 16% since the October 12 New York Times story, and was down a little over one percent following Thursday’s earnings call.
“Let me be clear. There has never been an allegation by anyone that I engaged in any wrongdoing, because I did not,” Black said Thursday. “Any suggestion of blackmail or anything else of Epstein’s reprehensible conduct is untrue.”
Black reiterated on the call that Apollo’s board hired an outside law firm to review and report on his business dealings with Epstein, and would not comment further on the investigation Thursday. For years, Epstein’s only other known client was L Brands’ Wexner, the “Merlin of the mall” who stepped down as chief executive and chairman in May amid his own firestorm of scrutiny for working with the disgraced financier. Wexner previously accused Epstein of “misappropriating vast sums” of his fortune in August 2019, shortly before Epstein died by suicide in a Manhattan lockup.