Leon Black, the billionaire co-founder of Apollo Global Management, on Wednesday denied allegations from an ex-girlfriend who claims the private-equity tycoon once flew her against her will to Florida to “satisfy the sex needs” of the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
In a document filed Wednesday in New York state court, lawyers representing Black denied the claims made by former Russian model Guzel Ganieva in a defamation and sexual violence lawsuit she leveled against Black earlier this year.
Black’s legal team stated that Ganieva’s claim that Black flew her to Florida in October 2008 to have sex with Epstein was “demonstrably false … from start to finish.”
The lawyers said they have records showing Black and Ganieva did not fly to Palm Beach as Ganieva alleged, as well as a recording of a conversation in which Ganieva denies ever meeting Epstein.
Ganieva, meanwhile, claimed in a filing early last month that Black hijacked lunch plans in Manhattan to fly her to meet Epstein, who she says Black described as his “best friend.”
Black threatened to plant drugs on the ex-model if she told anyone about the trip and then appeared to want her to have sex with both him and Epstein at the now-deceased financier’s Palm Beach home, Ganieva claimed.
“While a lurid potboiler starring Jeffrey Epstein may be good for grabbing tabloid headlines, the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence in this case betrays the utter falsity of these allegations,” read the court filing.
Ganieva’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
Ganieva filed a lawsuit in June accusing Black, 69, of coercing her into signing a nondisclosure agreement to stay silent about years of “sexual violence,” including rape, and using his money and power to exert control over her after the two met while Ganieva, now 38 years old, was in her eary 20s. But Black—in a 52-page counterclaim filed July 19—deemed Ganieva’s claims a “work of fiction,” saying though he had an affair with the model from 2008 to 2015 while he was still married, it was a consensual relationship that she spun into an “extortion scheme.” Black’s lawyers said in the court filing he gave Ganieva millions of dollars in gifts during their relationship, including a pricey Upper East Side apartment, a Steinway piano and her tuition paid at Columbia University, all of which made him an “easy target” for extortion.
Days after Ganieva went public with her claims in March, Black unexpectedly resigned as chairman of Apollo and handed over the CEO reins months earlier than previously planned, in a management shift precipitated by scrutiny over his connection to Epstein, the disgraced financier who died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on human trafficking charges. Black also announced he would not run for reelection as the chairman of the Museum of Modern Art. An investigation by Apollo’s board of directors revealed earlier this year that Black paid Epstein $158 million in fees and services, loaned him over $30 million and made a $10 million donation to Epstein’s charity before the two cut off their relationship in 2018 over a “fee dispute.” While the probe by law firm Dechert found “no evidence Mr. Black was involved in any way with Mr. Epstein’s criminal activities at the time,” the vast sums of money forwarded to Epstein for what Black described as “professional services to my family partnership and related family entities” drew scrutiny over how Black may have supported Epstein’s accused criminal behavior. Black has claimed he had no knowledge of the sexual trafficking of minors Epstein was allegedly engaged in.