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Leon Black agrees to pay $62.5 million to avoid Jeffrey Epstein-related lawsuits in the US Virgin Islands

By Samantha Delouya, CNN

(CNN) — Billionaire investor Leon Black struck a multi-million dollar settlement with the government of the US Virgin Islands to avoid any legal claims tied to a Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking investigation.

According to a settlement document obtained by CNN, Black agreed in January to pay the Virgin Islands government $62.5 million in cash. In exchange, the Virgin Islands released Black from any current and future legal claims related to Jeffrey Epstein.

The news was first reported by the New York Times.

A portion of Black’s cash payment – $15 million – will be established as a trust fund to sponsor projects such as counseling programs and mental health services, according to the document.

“As publicly reported, Mr. Black engaged and made payments to Jeffrey Epstein for legitimate financial advisory services, which based on everything now known, he very much regrets,” Whit Clay, a spokesman for Black, told CNN. ” Consistent with settlements of other major U.S. 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.”

Black has faced a number of accusations and lawsuits over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein. He has been publicly accused of rape in three lawsuits. Black has denied these allegations, and his attorney has called one of the accusations “categorically false” and another “full of vicious and defamatory lies.” The third suit was dismissed by a state judge.

But Black has been plagued by his connection to Epstein since the disgraced financier was arrested in 2019 on federal charges of sex trafficking minors. Epstein died by suicide that same year while in federal custody.

A 2021 independent investigation into Black’s connection to Epstein — commissioned by Apollo Global Management, the private equity company co-founded by Black in 1990 — found no evidence that Mr. Black was involved in any way with Mr. Epstein’s criminal activities at any time. However, the probe did find that Black’s payments to Epstein totaled $158 million between 2012 and 2017.

In a 2020 letter to Apollo shareholders, Black expressed regret for his association with Epstein but said their relationship only involved professional services, including “estate planning, tax and philanthropic endeavors.”

Still, Black announced he would step down as CEO of Apollo in January 2021 amid questions surrounding his connection to Epstein.

At the time, Black said he planned to remain Apollo’s largest shareholder and “strongest supporter.” Forbes estimates that Black is worth more than $10 billion.

The Senate Finance Committee is investigating whether Black’s payments to Epstein were part of a scheme to avoid paying over $1 billion in federal gift and estate taxes. In a statement to CNN, Clay said that Black had fully paid all taxes to the government and that he “has cooperated extensively with the Committee, providing detailed information about the matters under review.”

This is not the only Jeffrey Epstein-related case being pursued by the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned a home. Last month, the Virgin Islands government said it is seeking $190 million in penalties and disgorgement from JPMorgan Chase, alleging that the bank benefited financially from Epstein’s sex trafficking operation. JPMorgan said in a statement that the Virgin Island government’s claims are “not well founded and are being challenged by JPM in court.”

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