It was the big closer on Monday: After facing scrutiny for his business dealings with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, Apollo Global Management’s Leon Black will step down as CEO in July.
An investigation started by Apollo’s Conflicts Committee found that the CEO paid some $158 million to the now deceased Epstein for financial advice and to his philanthropies between 2012 and 2017, the company announced late Monday. Black believed Epstein’s advice to be “creative” and “disruptive,” creating value of over $1 billion to $2 billion for himself, per the report.
The payment number comes as a shock: The $158 million is significantly more than anyone thought. In October, the New York Times reported that the payments were at least $50 million in that same period, when Epstein had already been convicted of soliciting prostitution with a minor in 2008.
More notably, though, Black will remain Chairman of the company. Apollo separately said the investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing by Black or by the company itself. Law firm Dechart, which carried out the investigation, also added, “Black stated that he was repulsed by the details of Epstein’s crimes that were published in late 2018 and regretted ever having worked with Epstein. Other witnesses agreed that Black was shocked when the allegations became public.” Apollo itself has long maintained that it has never retained Epstein’s services.
“It is important for me to stress again how deeply I regret having had any involvement with Mr. Epstein,” Black said in a statement.
While Marc Rowan, one of Black’s lieutenants, is set to replace him as CEO, it’s not such a clean change of the guards. Rowan and Black teamed up together against who they viewed as the wrong choice for the chief executive role—Joshua Harris—in a move that would help Black maintain some control, Bloomberg reported.
Rowan, though quiet in the media, has been known for making highly profitable bets including one on the insurer Athene. But no doubt investors will still look to Black too for a guiding force.
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