Billionaire financier Leon Black has come under fire following a report from The New York Times alleging Black paid at least $50 million to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein since 2008. While Black categorically denies any misconduct for his involvement with a convicted sex offender, the report raises many questions that are still unanswered.
In 2017, the company that owned Black’s yacht paid a whopping $22.5 million to a company that managed Epstein’s Gulfstream jet, The NYT reported. When a Deutsche Bank employee questioned the payment, she was informed it was a consulting fee for a service provided by Southern Trust Company, one of Epstein’s operations in the Virgin Islands. There was no explanation given as to why the money went to the company that managed the jet, according to the same report. (RELATED: More Billionaires Keep Getting Implicated In The Epstein Scandal)
Southern Trust Company was a “DNA data-mining and genetic research provider with a ‘financial arm,'” Epstein claimed. The company had no scientists on its staff and there’s little evidence to support his claim the company was involved in DNA data-mining, according to The NYT.
Despite the aforementioned example and numerous other red flags mentioned in the original report, Black continued conducting business with Epstein in the years leading up to his death. A spokeswoman said Black is “appalled by the conduct that led to criminal charges against Mr. Epstein” and “deeply regrets having any involvement with him,” according to The NYT.
While Black’s spokeswoman said he is “appalled” by Epstein’s charges, Epstein was convicted in 2008 for soliciting sex from a teenage girl. Was Black unaware of these charges in the years following Epstein’s 2008 publicized conviction? The NYT reported that many of Epstein’s contacts cut him off following the allegations. Why did Black retain a relationship?
In 2009, dozens of women filed civil lawsuits against the financier claiming they were molested, according to Insider. Epstein was accused by Virginia Roberts Giuffre in 2015 of forcing Giuffre to have sex with Prince Andrew and lawyer Alan Dershowitz. That same year, several lawsuits emerged alleging Epstein and his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell operated an international sex trafficking ring, according to the same report.
The stories about Epstein were everywhere. Did Black truly not know about the mounting allegations against Epstein? And if he did, why did he continue working with Epstein?
The NYT also reported that Black visited Epstein’s residence in the Virgin Islands as late as 2012, and frequently visited Epstein’s New York mansion for breakfast and lunch. If he did visit Epstein’s New York home, did he see pornographic art all over the walls? If he visited Epstein’s private residence in the Virgin Islands, was he alarmed at the heightened security around the island where Epstein is alleged to have run his sex-trafficking ring?
While Black claims his relationship with Epstein was strictly business, his claim raises serious doubts.
Black is one of the wealthiest people in the U.S., with a net worth estimated to be around $8 billion. His spokeswoman said Epstein was hired to to give Black “personal trusts and estates planning advice” along with “investment services” and “financial” advice.
Epstein has been linked to other wealthy Wall Street tycoons, and Vanity Fair reported that Epstein could have made some of his fortune through tax planning.
Black undoubtedly had access to some of the best tax planners and financial advisers in the world. With Epstein’s allegations out in the open as early as 2008, it’s hard to imagine Black was unaware of the allegations. Why did Black continue to rely on Epstein for tax consulting when his options were numerous?
Further, Black is the CEO of Apollo, one of the largest asset managing services and investment companies. Why did Black seek outside resources from a well known sex-offender to give him financial advice and “investment services” when Black’s own company employed the same specialty advisers?
Who currently provides Black with the same services and for how much? Black likely had unparalleled resources at his disposal, making the possibility that Epstein was his only option highly unlikely. Black paid Epstein at least $50 million for his financial services. Does Black pay his current advisors the same amount? If not, it raises the question whether Black was consciously funneling Epstein extra money, and for what?
Black needs to be held accountable for his involvement with a convicted sex offender who had allegations growing in the years leading up to his death in 2019.
Black’s alleged large payments to Epstein helped prop up the financier in his final years, and potentially could have funded Epstein’s escapades that involved the exploitation and abuse of young, low-income girls.
The media has a moral obligation to scrutinize Black’s involvement with Epstein.