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US Senate panel investigates billionaire Leon Black’s financial ties to Jeffrey Epstein By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Leon Black, Chairman, CEO and Director, Apollo Global Management, LLC, speaks at the 21st Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday disclosed an ongoing investigation into private equity billionaire Leon Black’s financial ties to late financier Jeffrey Epstein, and said the investigation “unraveled serious tax issues.”

“The investigation has uncovered serious tax and other problems with trusts and structures that Black exercised to avoid more than $1 billion in future gift and estate taxes,” the panel said in a statement on Tuesday, adding its investigation began in June 2022.

The Senate panel said that the reported $158 million payment in installments from 2012 to 2017 by Black to Epstein for financial advice appeared to be “significantly large”, given that Epstein “is neither a licensed tax attorney nor a certified public accountant.”

The panel also accused Black of “refusing to answer questions or provide any documents that could show how Epstein’s compensation for tax and estate planning services was determined or justified.”

A spokesperson for Black said the billionaire had “cooperated extensively” with the panel’s investigation and provided detailed information.

“The transactions referred to in the Committee’s letter were lawful in all respects, drafted, reviewed and executed by a reputable law and tax firm and other advisors, and Mr. Black has paid in full all taxes owed to the government,” a spokesperson for Black said in an emailed statement.

Black previously admitted he paid Epstein for “legitimate financial advisory services”. Last week, the New York Times reported that Black paid $62.5 million to the US Virgin Islands to avoid legal claims related to the Epstein sex trafficking investigation.

Black is worth $10.1 billion, according to Forbes magazine. He left Apollo Global Management (NYSE:), the private equity firm he co-founded, in 2021.

Epstein, a registered sex offender who once considered former presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton as friends, killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

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