Apollo’s Leon Black to retire as CEO but remain chairman after he is cleared in internal Epstein probe

Leon Black, Chairman, CEO and Director, Apollo Global Management, LLC, speaks at the Milken Institute’s 21st Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, May 1, 2018.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Leon Black will retire as CEO of Apollo Global Management by the end of July, but will remain as chairman, the investment firm said Monday as it also revealed that a probe of the company’s and Black’s ties with sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein had found no wrongdoing.

That investigation by the law firm Dechert had been launched on the heels of a New York Times report in October that Black had wired Epstein at least $50 million in the years after the controversial money manager pleaded guilty in 2008 to a sex crime in Florida involving an underage girl.

Epstein, who provided Black financial advice, killed himself in a federal jail in August 2019 after being arrested the prior month on child sex trafficking charges.

Apollo previously has said that Black cut ties with Epstein, who was a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, in 2018 over a “fee dispute.”

Apollo in a news release on Monday said that Dechert’s investigation found that Apollo had never retained Epstein for any services, and that he never invested any funds managed by the company.

The company said that Dechert also confirmed that while Epstein had “regularly advised” Black on trust and estate planning, tax issues and other operations of his family office, all fees paid to Epstein by Black or his family offier were for “bona fide” services.

And “the amounts were intended to be proportional to the value” of Epstein’s work, the probe found, according to Apollo.

“Epstein’s advice was vetted by respected professional advisors; and Dechert found no evidence that Mr. Black was involved in any way with Mr. Epstein’s criminal activities at any time,” Apollo said in a news release.

“The findings of the report are consistent with statements made by Mr. Black and Apollo regarding the prior relationship,” the company added.

Black said in a statement, “After a three-month investigation, which included reviewing more than 60,000 documents and interviewing more than 20 individuals, the Dechert report on behalf of the Apollo Board Conflicts Committee confirms the key facts I have previously disclosed concerning my relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.”

Those facts, Black said, included “that I was completely unaware of Mr. Epstein’s abhorrent misconduct that came to light in late 2018, that I did not engage in any wrongdoing or inappropriate conduct, that all fees paid to Mr. Epstein were for legitimate professional advisory services.”

Black also said, “It is important for me to stress again how deeply I regret having had any involvement with Mr. Epstein and I thank the Committee and its counsel for their tireless work over the last few months.”

Black in a separate statement announcing his planned retirement as CEO by this summer said, “I am extraordinarily proud of the firm I have helped build over the past 30 years and the value we bring to our clients, investors and communities.”

“Since our IPO in early 2011, we have focused on transforming Apollo and developing the next generation of leadership to position the firm for continued growth for decades to come. Given the extraordinary strength and depth of Apollo’s management team and consistent with best-in-class governance practices, I have advised the Apollo Board that I will retire as CEO on or before my 70th birthday in July and remain as Chairman,” Black said.

He also said that in the role of chairman, “I look forward to focusing on strategic planning, growth initiatives, investment opportunities and supporting Apollo, which has been my life’s work, in whatever ways I can.”

Jeffrey Epstein attends Launch of RADAR MAGAZINE at Hotel QT on May 18, 2005.

Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

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