Apollo CEO Leon Black Stepping Down After Review of Ties to Jeffrey Epstein

Apollo CEO Leon Black Stepping Down After Review of Ties to Jeffrey Epstein
Leon Black, director of Apollo Global Management, in Beverly Hills, Calif., on May 1, 2018. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
Zachary Stieber

Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black is stepping down from his position after the conclusion of an investigation into his ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The probe, conducted by Dechert LLP, found no evidence that Black or any other employee at Apollo was involved with Epstein’s criminal activities, according to a report on the investigation made public in a security filing.

“There is no evidence that Epstein ever introduced Black, or offered to introduce Black, to any underage woman,” the report stated.

Epstein was convicted in 2008 for soliciting prostitution of a minor. He died in prison in 2019 after being charged with child sex trafficking and other crimes. Authorities ruled his death a suicide.

Black’s relationship with Epstein dated back to the mid-1990s. They met through a mutual friend, and Black “was impressed” by Epstein’s connections to prominent figures. Black paid Epstein $158 million from 2012 to 2017 for services including advice on trust and estate planning and philanthropic endeavors, the investigation found.

Black is one of a number of wealthy individuals who paid Epstein for his financial services. Chief among them is Les Wexner, founder of L Brands, who gave Epstein power of attorney and installed him as a trustee of his foundation.

According to Dechert, Black “compensated Epstein for his work in amounts that were intended to be proportional to the value provided by Epstein.”

Jeffrey Epstein in a July 2019 mugshot. (Department of Justice)
Jeffrey Epstein in a July 2019 mugshot. (Department of Justice)

The men’s relationship deteriorated beginning in 2016 because Black refused to pay Epstein tens of millions of dollars that Epstein thought he had earned. Black last paid Epstein in 2017. Epstein repaid a portion of loans from Black in 2018 but never repaid the balance. They stopped communicating before Epstein was charged with sex trafficking.

Epstein tried repeatedly to ingratiate himself to other senior executives at Apollo, and Black apparently helped introduce him to the executives. But Dechert said there’s no evidence of any other executive retaining Epstein.

In a Jan. 25 letter that was also published with the filing, Black noted the report’s findings, said he condemns Epstein’s conduct, and expressed regret for ever being involved with the man.

Black plans to retire as CEO, though he will remain chairman of the Apollo board.

Black and others decided to appoint Marc Rowan, co-founder, to be CEO as soon as Black retires.