Billionaire Leon Black’s $158M payment to Jeffrey Epstein sparks Senate investigation

The Senate Finance Committee announced Tuesday that it is conducting an investigation into billionaire and Apollo Global Management co-founder Leon Black’s financial ties with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. 

The investigation’s findings allegedly include a “transaction Epstein devised to help Black avoid more than $1 billion in federal taxes raises.” The probe originally began as “part of a broader review of the means by which the ultra-wealthy avoid or evade federal taxes,” according to a statement from the panel.

“The committee’s investigation began in June 2022 and was prompted by inconsistencies in a report by the law firm Dechert LLP that Apollo’s board of directors commissioned to examine Black’s ties to Epstein,” the statement read. “The Dechert report found Black paid Epstein, who was neither a licensed tax attorney nor a certified public accountant, a total of $158 million in several installments between 2012 and 2017.”

According to the committee, Black, the former chairman and CEO of Apollo, has "refused to answer questions or provide any documents that could demonstrate how Epstein’s compensation for tax and estate planning services was determined or justified."

"Unfortunately, the inadequate responses you have provided the Committee only raise more questions than answers, and fail to address a number of tax issues my staff has uncovered over the course of this investigation," committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a letter to Black. "This includes understanding the amount by which you were overpaid income from assets placed in a trust while devising a scheme to ensure that those assets, worth billions of dollars, would remain outside your taxable estate. Additionally, you have refused to answer questions or provide documents related to payments you made to Epstein or substantiate how such payments were calculated or were compensation for services.

A woman filed a lawsuit in November accusing Black of raping her and accusing Epstein of having helped facilitate the attack. Black’s legal team denied the allegations at the time, and he stepped down from his positions at Apollo after they became public. 

Epstein was arrested in July 2019 in July 2019 on charges of abusing and trafficking minors but died by suicide in prison before trial. He was 66 at the time of his death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.