Leon Black plans to step down as chief executive of Apollo Global Management Inc., according to Fox Business.
Larger-than-expected payments to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein have been revealed.
No evidence was found that Mr. Black was involved in the criminal activities of the late Epstein.
Allegedly, Black paid Epstein for legitimate advice on trust- and estate-tax planning that proved to be of significant value to Mr. Black and his family. Mr. Black paid Epstein a total of $148 million, plus a $10 million donation to his charity—far more than was previously known.
Mr. Black wrote in a letter to Apollo’s fund investors that he would cede the role of CEO to co-founder Marc Rowan.
Mr. Black also pledged to donate $200 million of his family’s money to women’s initiatives.
In his letter, Mr. Black added, “It is important to emphasize that both Apollo and I condemn Mr. Epstein’s reprehensible conduct in the strongest possible terms, and, as I have previously stated, I deeply regret having had any involvement with Mr. Epstein.”
Mr. Black “believed, and witnesses generally agreed, that Epstein provided advice that conferred more than $1 billion and as much as $2 billion or more” in tax savings,” reports state.
“In short, there is no question that Epstein performed substantive work for Black and that Black genuinely believed that Epstein was extremely smart, capable, and saved him substantial amounts of money.”
In addition to giving up the CEO title, Mr. Black has recommended other governance changes, including adopting a “one share, one vote” structure and eliminating the supervoting shares held by the firm’s founders. He has also proposed augmenting the board so that the majority of directors are independent.
“I am keenly aware that Apollo must continue to innovate and improve its corporate governance processes and focus on creating an enduring world-class financial institution with a best-in-class governance structure,” Mr. Black wrote in the letter.
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The moves conclude a tumultuous period for Mr. Black, who in October asked a committee of Apollo’s independent directors to launch the review of his relationship with Epstein, who killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell in 2019. The request was an effort to assuage concerns among public pension funds and other institutions that invest with Apollo, some of which had said they would pause further investments with the firm after the New York Times reported that Mr. Black had paid Epstein at least $50 million.
Mr. Black also asked employees of his family office; attorneys at law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; and other outside accountants, lawyers and tax professionals to vet and challenge Epstein’s advice when it was given, the report states.
Epstein was arrested in July 2019 after scrutiny of a 2007 nonprosecution agreement he signed with federal authorities in Florida to resolve an investigation into improper conduct involving underage girls. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to two state prostitution counts and spent much of his 13-month sentence outside prison.
Epstein, who grew up in Coney Island, built a fortune of more than half a billion dollars by leveraging close relationships with a who’s who of the nation’s rich and famous, among them retail magnate Leslie Wexner, Johnson & Johnson heiress Elizabeth Johnson and hedge-fund billionaire Glenn Dubin.
After serving his sentence, Mr. Epstein worked to rehabilitate his public image and continued to surround himself with luminaries of politics, academia and finance.
Apollo’s board voted to add two new independent directors: Pamela Joyner, founder of marketing firm Avid Partners LLC, and Siddhartha Mukherjee, a scientist, oncologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, in addition to Apollo Co-Presidents Scott Kleinman and Jim Zelter. Mr. Black told investors that the board plans to add at least two more independent directors.