Billionaire Leon Black paid $62.5m to exit US Virgin Islands investigation over links to Jeffrey Epstein

Wall Street private equity executive had ties to Epstein for decades

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Saturday 22 July 2023 01:24 BST
JPMorgan Chase Settles With Victim of Jeffrey Epstein

Private equity billionaire Leon Black agreed in January to pay $62.5m to the US Virgin Islands to be released from potential claims related to the territory’s investigation of the Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking ring.

The settlement, obtained by The New York Times via a public records request, stipulates that the agreement shouldn’t be construed as “evidence of wrongdoing” on the part of the former Wall Street executive.

“Mr Black engaged and made payments to Jeffrey Epstein for legitimate financial advisory services, which, based on everything now known, he very much regrets,” a spokesperson for Mr Black told the paper. “Consistent with settlements of other major US banks, Mr Black resolved the USVI’s potential claims arising out of the unintended consequences of those payments. There is no suggestion in the USVI settlement that Mr Black was aware of or participated in any misconduct.”

This July 9, 2019 photo shows Jeffery Epstein's estate on Little Saint James Island in the U. S. Virgin Islands (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Mr Black knew Epstein, who killed himself in prison in 2019, for decades and the pair both socialised together and had deep financial ties.

The billionaire reportedly paid Mr Epstein $158m for financial planning. The pair cut business ties in 2018 because of a “fee dispute,” representatives for Mr Black have previously said.

In 2021, Mr Black stepped down from Apollo Global Management, the private equity firm he co-founded. Following his resignation, the firm hired the law firm Dechert to investigate his ties to Epstein. Dechert cleared Mr Black of wrongdoing but noted that payments to Epstein “far exceeded any amounts” to his other professional advisors.

The settlement with Mr Black is part of the US Virgin Islands’ larger investigation of the Epstein sex trafficking ring, where numerous girls and young women were sexually abused on the disgraced financier’s private island estate in the territory.

In November, Epstein’s estate agreed to pay $105m to the US Virgin Islands government to settle a lawsuit.

In December, the territory sued JPMorgan over its lengthy history with Epstein, which accused the Wall Street firm of having “pulled the levers” that allowed the financier to abuse girls and women on a mass scale, doing business with Epstein years after he had been “red flagged” by the bank as a child sex offender.

The bank has denied wrongdoing and argues that it was officials in the US Virgin Islands who were complicit in the abuse.

“He gave them money, advice, influence, and favors. In exchange, they shielded and even rewarded him,” the bank argued in a May court filing.

Last month, a judge approved a $290m settlement between JPMorgan and victims of Epstein’s abuse.

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