Leon Black has some more explaining to do.
The billionaire buyout king said Thursday that he had employed Jeffrey Epstein for “professional services” for six years after the sex pervert was convicted of soliciting a minor in 2008 — despite the fact that a spokesman for Black had insisted last year, following a report by The Post, that Black’s charitable foundation had subsequently severed his ties with Epstein.
In his most comprehensive account to date, Black admitted that in 2012, three years after Epstein got out of jail following his conviction, “Epstein did provide professional services to my family partnership and related family entities involving estate planning, tax, structuring of art entities and philanthropic advice.”
Black added that he failed to cut his ties with Epstein because of “misplaced comfort” in the “distinguished reputations” of people in high society who continued to mingle with Epstein.
“His work extended over a period of six years from 2012 to 2017 and I paid him millions of dollars annually for that work,” Black said on a Thursday earnings call for his giant private-equity firm Apollo Global Management.
“This was a terrible mistake. Had I known any of the facts about Epstein’s sickening and repulsive conduct, which I learned in late 2018, more than a year after I stopped working with him, I never would have had anything to do with him,” Black said, refusing to answer any questions.
Last summer, however, when The Post reported that tax documents for Black’s charity, the Black Family Foundation, had named Epstein as a director for five years following his conviction, reps for Black insisted that Epstein left the charity after his June 2007 indictment, and that his name had lingered on the documents solely because of clerical errors by the charity’s accountant.
“Jeffrey Epstein resigned in July 2007 at the family’s request from the Leon Black Family Foundation and has not been affiliated with or performed any duties for the Foundation since that date,” Black’s reps told Bloomberg News following The Post’s July 2019 report.
“Due to a recording error, Mr. Epstein’s name mistakenly appeared on Foundation 990 Forms from 2008-2012, after which the inaccuracy was discovered and corrected.”
A spokesperson for Black on Thursday declined to comment specifically about the apparent discrepancy, and whether the Black Family Foundation wasn’t part of the “family partnership and related family entities” that Black referred to on the Thursday conference call.
“Mr. Black has been transparent about his former business relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. He is not commenting further as the independent review he requested is underway,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Apollo is facing increasing investor concern after Black said earlier this month that he regretted payments to Epstein reportedly between $50 million and $75 million over the last decade for what he called “professional services.”
“Let me be clear, there has never been an allegation by anyone that I engaged in any wrongdoing, because I did not. Any suggestion of blackmail or any other connection to Epstein’s reprehensible conduct is categorically untrue,” Black said on the call.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to swallow Black’s contention that he paid tens of millions of dollars to Epstein — who was not a lawyer or an accountant — for services like estate planning and tax advice, said Richard Painter, former President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer.
“The story is completely unbelievable,” Painter said. “There is no rational explanation except there is something going on Black is not disclosing.”
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