Leon Black’s “Surprise” Apollo Exit Came After Sexual Harassment Allegation From Former Model
What a shock: a person who paid dead pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein $158 million for his “financial advice” was allegedly sexually harassing a woman dozens of years younger, a woman whom Black now admits he had a “consensual” affair with.
According to the NY Post, Leon Black’s unexpected and rushed departure from the helm of private equity giant Apollo Global last month came just days after several directors on the private-equity giant’s board learned of accusations of sexual harassment against him by a woman he claimed was trying to shake him down following a past “consensual affair.”
While Black was already on track to step down as Apollo CEO by the end of July, on March 22 he unexpectedly announced that he would be leaving as CEO and Chairman, effective immediately, sparking a flood of speculation if an (underage female) skeleton was about to emerge from Black’s deep closet, even though Black apparently lied and cited his wife’s ailing health and his own health problems for the sudden change in plans.
What Black forgot to mention at the time of his resignation is that in the days leading up to his resignation, at least four of Apollo’s 12 board members had become aware of a series of little-noticed but explosive tweets by Güzel Ganieva, a former model who claimed to have been “forced to sign an NDA in 2015” relating to allegations that Black “sexually harassed and abused ” her, Post sources revealed.
Black did not deny that he had been involved sexually with Ganieva, but denied that he acted inappropriately toward her according to the Post
“I foolishly had a consensual affair with Ms. Ganieva that ended more than seven years ago,” Black said in his statement. “Any allegation of harassment or any other inappropriate behavior towards her is completely fabricated.”
Naturally, he also denied that her allegations influenced his decision to step away from the company faster than planned, so basically he is still claiming that he quit 4 months early because of concerns about his wife’s health… the same wife he has now confirmed he cheated on at least once. In January, Black had signaled he would stay on as chairman after stepping down as CEO on July 31.
“This is entirely a personal matter; this matter has nothing to do with Apollo or my decision to step away from the firm” Black said, adding that he believes he was “extorted” by Ganieva because he had allegedly “made substantial monetary payments to her, based on her threats to go public concerning our relationship, in an attempt to spare my family from public embarrassment.”
In other words, Black paid Epstein over $100 million for his “estate planning” advice and then paid a girl that was less than half his age to keep her mouth shut.
A pattern is emerging here…
The billionaire said he has referred the matter to “the criminal authorities” at the recommendation of his counsel and welcomes “a thorough investigation.” It remains unclear whether any of Black’s allegations against Ganieva would amount to criminal conduct and there is no indication that charges have been brought or are being considered.
As for Ganieva, she claims that in 2015, she signed a non-disclosure agreement aimed at keeping her quiet “under duress,” but did not elaborate on the terms or whether she received a monetary benefit.
“Although I am a private person, in light of the recent media coverage, I think I have an obligation to make a statement regarding Apollo Global Management’s CEO and Chairman, Leon Black,” began the first of her March 17 tweets. “I was sexually harassed and abused by him for years.
“It started in 2008 when I met with him to discuss work,” Ganieva continued. “While he understood my career aspirations, he could not understand me when I refused his sexual advances. I was bullied, manipulated, threatened, and coerced.”
Ganieva declined to provide a copy of the NDA. A second NY Post source claiming knowledge of the matter, agreed that an NDA was signed but declined to elaborate. NDAs became a flashpoint in the #MeToo movement, with commentators arguing that they had become a tool that protected powerful men against allegations of abuse.
“I am breaking my silence now because I do not want this type of predatory behavior to continue happening to other women,” Ganieva said in her third and final tweet, which as of Thursday was still posted on Twitter.
Speaking to the Post, Ganieva alleged that Black’s abuse “was over a long period of time and it was tragic.” The former model, who emigrated to the US from Russia, said she met Black at a 2008 Manhattan party when she was 25 years old. He tried for some time to help her get a job, she said, but claimed he wanted favors in return.
Ganieva declined to talk more specifically about her allegations, saying she was not yet comfortable sharing additional details about her claims.
Here the plot thickens: among the directors who had learned of the tweets, the sources said, were Jay Clayton, the former chief of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, who was tapped as Apollo’s lead independent director in a January overhaul meant to improve Apollo’s corporate governance. Ironically, Clayton – who runs his internal probes the same way he ran the SEC – ultimately cleared Black of all wrongdoing.
In January, an investigation for Apollo by the law firm Dechert (which most likely is a repeat client of Apollo and thus would never do anything to jeopardize such a lucrative relationship) found he had paid Epstein $158 million for tax advice and estate-planning services between 2013 and 2017. After the close of the investigation, Black said of his involvement with Epstein that he was only guilty of poor judgment in his dealings with Epstein, and that he had done nothing wrong.
“[There was no] evidence that I had any involvement with Mr. Epstein’s egregious conduct or engaged in wrongdoing of any kind,” he said in a letter to Apollo investors.
Four days later on March 26, Black said he would not run for re-election as chairman of the Museum of Modern Art when his term ends on June 30.
Thu, 04/08/2021 – 22:30