Leon Black Says He Regrets Giving Jeffrey Epstein ‘a Second Chance’
(Bloomberg) -- Apollo Global Management Inc. co-founder Leon Black said he regretted doing business with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, even though other prominent people had done the same.
“Like many people I respected, I decided to give Epstein a second chance,” Black said Thursday during a conference call to discuss Apollo’s third-quarter results. “This was a terrible mistake.”
Apollo has faced mounting pressure over Black’s relationship with Epstein, who was convicted in 2008 for soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl and killed himself in a Manhattan jail last year.
Black, 69, said he paid Epstein millions of dollars annually for his work from 2012 through 2017 and that there’s “substantial documentary support” for the services provided, including advice on estate planning, taxes, philanthropy and the structuring of art entities.
Epstein, whom he first met in 1996, worked with many prominent people after he was released from jail and that “the distinguished reputations of these individuals gave me misplaced comfort,” Black said.
Apollo raised $4 billion in the third quarter and expects fundraising to slow, co-founder Joshua Harris said on the call.
Last week, major consultants expressed reservations about giving new money to the asset manager and two public pensions said they were halting investments. That followed an Oct. 12 New York Times report that Black had wired at least $50 million to Epstein since the 2008 conviction. The article didn’t accuse Black of breaking the law.
Apollo hired law firm Dechert LLP to conduct a review that’s expected to take 60 to 90 days.
But investor concerns remain.
Doug Strand, a trustee of the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois, which approved an additional $75 million commitment to Apollo in August, asked during a meeting Thursday whether the $54 billion pension fund would seek to take action regarding its exposure to the asset manager.
“We are watching and talking to the firm often,” Scottie Bevill, a senior investment officer, said in response. “We are basically waiting for the results of the Dechert report, which is doing a complete independent review of Mr. Black’s situation, so we are monitoring it closely.”
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