Leon Black, one of Wall Street’s most powerful executives, allegedly lied to clients when asked about how deep his relationship was with financier pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. He told them that he only had a limited relationship, but research into the matter and court documents show a much different story.
Such questions were valid, Black said, according to a transcript of a call with analysts in July 2019. He said in a letter that same day to investors that he had had a “limited relationship” with Epstein, and had consulted him “from time to time” on personal financial matters.
However, Black’s connection to Epstein was a lot deeper than he had told investors Epstein and Black frequently socialized and Black was a client for Epstein over the final decade of his life.
What’s more digging deeper, Black wired Epstein at least $50 million in the years after Epstein’s 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with four people with knowledge of the transactions. These transfers included $10 million to a foundation started by Epstein and consulting fees that were sufficiently unusual to draw scrutiny from Deutsche Bank, where Epstein kept his accounts. Two of the people said the total amount sent by Black to Epstein could be as high as $75 million.
“Black received personal trusts and estates planning advice as well as family office philanthropy and investment services from several financial and legal advisers, including Epstein, during a six-year period, between 2012 and 2017,” said Stephanie Pillersdorf, a spokeswoman for Black. “The trusts and estate planning advice was vetted by leading auditors and law firms.”
The business relationship ended in 2018 because of a “fee dispute” and Black stopped communicating with Epstein, she said.
Adding, “Black continues to be appalled by the conduct that led to the criminal charges against Epstein, and he deeply regrets having any involvement with him,” Pillersdorf said.
She further said that Epstein did not do any work for Apollo, whose investors hold large sovereign wealth funds, and private foundations.
The fees from Black partially help explain the mystery of Epstein’s historic wealth.
Epstein and Black’s relationship explains how a man who left behind an estate worth more than $600 million made money in the years after his most lucrative client, billionaire retail magnate Leslie H. Wexner, allegedly cut him off.
Some of the payments from Black are described in an internal report by Deutsche Bank, which served as Epstein’s primary banker from 2013 to 2019. The report was provided to regulators who fined the German bank over the summer for its failure to catch numerous red flags in Epstein’s financial activities.
Portions of the report reviewed by The Times describe a payment of $22.5 million in 2017 by a company called BV70 LLC, which the bank said owned Black’s yacht, to Plan D, the company that managed Epstein’s Gulfstream jet. When an employee in Deutsche Bank’s anti-financial-crime division inquired about the payment, she was told by another bank employee that it was a fee for consulting services provided by Southern Trust Company, one of the dozens of entities Epstein operated in the Virgin Islands. There was no explanation for why the payment went to Plan D.
The Deutsche Bank report also shows that BV70 made a $10 million donation in 2015 to a charitable foundation started by Epstein, Gratitude America, which made several million dollars in grants while Epstein was painting himself as a philanthropist. BV70 also planned to make another payment of $10 million to Epstein for advisory work, according to the report, although it was unclear if that payment was ever made.
Prior to that in 2014, Epstein received several million dollars in fees from Narrows Holdings, a company that Black — the chairman of the Museum of Modern Art — has used to purchase much of his billion-dollar art collection, according to two of the people with knowledge of the transactions. The details of the services Epstein provided in exchange for those fees are also unclear according to The Times.
Black knew Epstein for decades — in 1997 he made Epstein one of the original trustees of the Debra and Leon Black Foundation — and was among the high-profile figures who maintained a connection with the pedophile following his first arrest.
Epstein frequently hosted Black at his New York mansion, usually meeting him for breakfast or lunch, according to four people familiar with their relationship. In 2012, while on a family vacation in the Caribbean, Black traveled by yacht to attend a cookout at Epstein’s private island residence in the U.S. Virgin Islands, two of the people said.
Going back as far as 2011, Epstein’s financial advisory firm — Financial Trust — joined Black and members of his family in investing in a small emissions control company, Environmental Solutions Worldwide, where two of Black’s sons serve as board members.
The Times reports that according to an archived version of one of Epstein’s websites, the two men visited Black’s alma mater, Harvard, together and took pictures. Although the university stopped accepting any donations from Epstein after his 2008 plea, according to a report by the university, Black had given at least $5 million to professors and Epstein’s staff members had “played a role in facilitating the Black donations.”
The attorney general of the Virgin Islands, Denise N. George, filed a civil forfeiture lawsuit against Epstein’s estate this year, claiming that Epstein had deceived officials to get Southern Trust a lucrative tax break and used his island retreat to engage in sex trafficking. George’s offices said in court filings that she intended to serve subpoenas on Black and several of his business entities. (George has said she intends to serve a subpoena hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin as well.)
According to court filings against Deutsche Bank by New York’s Department of Financial Services, Jeffrey Epstein withdrew $800K in cash before his arrest, transferred millions to his victims and pilots and allegedly bought a $3 million house for his lawyer’s wife!
Epstein made a number of large transfers and withdrawals in the years before his death, according to the court filings. An email sent to the judge overseeing Epstein’s probate case by Virgin Islands’ Chief Deputy Attorney General Carol Thomas-Jacobs details a number of these suspicious transactions.
At least one of Epstein’s executors of his estate, Darren Indyke, is mentioned throughout the court documents for the role he played in helping Epstein access large amounts of cash and paying off the young women, who were underage at the time of their abuse by Epstein.
“Over the course of the relationship, Mr. Epstein and his representatives used Deutsche Bank accounts to send dozens of wires, directly and indirectly, including at least 18 wires in the amount of $10,000 or more to alleged co-conspirators who had been the subject of past press reports,” states the DFS filing.
The estate is also accused of misleading prosecutors according to the documents.
“When the Government asked the Estate to confirm that it was not paying legal expenses for other individuals, the Estate responded that it was only paying the legal expenses of two former employees,” states the court doc.
“In fact, the Estate’s last quarterly accounting confirms it is currently paying the fees of a law firm representing an immigration attorney the Government has reason to believe was retained to seek immigration status for victims of Epstein’s and others’ sexual abuse.”
“As you know, the Government’s Amended Complaint alleges that Epstein maintained a network of corporate entities that were used to fund and conceal the trafficking of women and girls in the Virgin Islands. The Complaint also alleges that the Co Executors were principals in many of those entities,” reads the filing.
“These entities held the islands at which the women and girls were abused and the private planes and other vehicles on which they were transported. A Consent Order entered by New York’s Department of Financial Services against Deutsche Bank and documents obtained by the Government make clear that substantial transfers from the accounts held by these companies and Epstein’s tax exempt foundation, over which Co Executor lndyke also had authority, were made to models and other individuals suspected of having recruited and/or abused Epstein’s victims, to Epstein’s house managers and pilot, and to Co Executor lndyke’s spouse for $3 million to purchase a home, for example.”
The filing also claims that Epstein paid $13 million to the victims and their lawyers after the illegal sweetheart deal back in 2008.