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Leon Black leaves Apollo months sooner than anticipated after Jeffrey Epstein’s funding scandal

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

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Apollo Global Management said Monday that CEO Leon Black, tarnished by his financial involvement with the late sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, left the company months earlier than previously announced.

Black, who is also stepping down as chairman, said his wife’s “health issues” and his own “health issues” played a key role in his decision to step down now.

Apollo had said in January that the 69-year-old black man would be leaving in July.

Apollo co-founder Marc Rowan has assumed the position of CEO as part of a planned successor announced in January.

The investment management firm also said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that former SEC chairman Jay Clayton has been named non-executive chairman of the board. Clayton was Apollo’s leading independent director.

Apollo announced in January that Black had paid Epstein $ 158 million for financial advice from 2012 to 2017, despite knowing the money manager pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from an underage girl in Florida in 2008.

Those payments, discovered after Apollo hired a law firm to investigate the men’s relationship, were three times the minimum $ 50 million Black reportedly made to Epstein in October.

Less than three months prior to the disclosure of the disclosed payments, Black said in a statement: “Knowing everything I have learned over the past two years about Epstein’s reprehensible and despicable behavior, I deeply regret my exposure to him . “”

“In hindsight, working with him was a terrible mistake on my part,” Black said at the time.

In January Black said he decided that “one way to address the grave flaw in a professional relationship with Epstein is to donate $ 200 million to gender equality initiatives and assistance to domestic violence, sexual assault and survivors” To provide human trafficking.

In a statement on Monday on his earlier-than-announced departure, Black said, “In the past few months, not only have we announced a transformative merger with Athene, but we expect our first quarter earnings to exceed analyst consensus on overall relevant measures and that Fundraising in the first quarter tends towards the upper end of our annual range of $ 15 billion to $ 20 billion. “

“I therefore see this as the ideal time to step back and focus on my family, my wife Debra’s problems and my health, and my many other interests,” he said.

Speaking of Rowan, Black said, “Marc has seamlessly transitioned into the role of CEO and I am confident that Apollo will reach new heights under his leadership.”

“For the past 30+ years my co-founders Marc, Josh Harris, and I have worked very hard to make Apollo a franchise built for lasting success,” added Black. “I firmly believe that Apollo’s best days are ahead of us.” . I intend to remain Apollo’s largest shareholder and supporter. “

Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, was arrested in July 2019 on charges of child sex trafficking. He died a month later in a Manhattan federal prison of what was officially classified as a suicide by hanging.

At the time of his arrest, Epstein was a registered sex offender based on his previous conviction in Florida.

His former girlfriend and property manager, British celebrity Ghislaine Maxwell, was arrested last summer on federal charges for allegedly recruiting and caring for underage girls to be sexually abused by Epstein. She is also accused of blaming herself for allegedly lying about her Epstein-related activities in testimony to a lawsuit filed by a woman who both accused of sexual abuse.

Maxwell, who pleaded guilty to her criminal trial, is being held bail in a Brooklyn, New York prison. She is due to stand trial this summer.

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