Leon Black has accused his former high lieutenant Josh Harris of exploiting a scandal involving the late Jeffrey Epstein to launch an “tried . . . coup and smear marketing campaign” in an effort to succeed Black as chief government of Apollo World Administration.
The claims, which a spokesperson for Harris described as “unhinged”, have been detailed in a movement filed in New York state courtroom on Tuesday.
The submitting is a part of Black’s try and get hold of phone data of his former mistress Guzel Ganieva, who has filed a civil lawsuit accusing the billionaire of sexually abusing her throughout their relationship after which damaging her repute by publicly accusing her of extortion.
Attorneys for Black, Apollo’s former chief, have beforehand requested for particulars of any contact that Ganieva’s attorneys might have had with businessmen together with Harris, who till final yr was one in every of Apollo’s three high companions. However in Tuesday’s submitting they went additional, claiming Harris sought to oust Black from Apollo.
Their submitting describes a fractious ambiance on the high ranges of the $481bn group throughout Black’s closing months in cost. Harris had “chafed beneath [his] relationship” with Black, who was “first amongst equals” in Apollo’s ruling triumvirate, the attorneys mentioned within the submitting.
In 2020, they added, Harris “discovered and exploited a lever in an try and oust Mr Black: allegations that [Black] had paid monetary administration charges to convicted felon and infamous sexual offender Jeffrey Epstein.” Epstein died by suicide in 2019 as he awaited trial on fees of intercourse trafficking minors.
In keeping with Black’s attorneys, Harris enlisted Steven Rubenstein, a public relations government who was on retainer with Apollo on the time, to develop “speaking factors” about Epstein and “assist seed dangerous tales about Mr Black”.
“Harris . . . noticed a possibility to take over at Apollo,” they added.
A consultant for Black declined to remark to the Monetary Occasions.
In a press release to the Monetary Occasions, a consultant for Harris mentioned the claims in Black’s submitting “are baseless, unfaithful, and — frankly — unhinged”.
The assertion added: “Mr Harris doesn’t know Ms Ganieva, has by no means met or spoken together with her or anybody representing her, has no monetary or every other dealings together with her or her representatives, and had no involvement of any type within the submitting of any claims by her.”
Evan Farber, an legal professional for Rubenstein, mentioned in a press release that “Mr Rubenstein and his agency have had completely no relationship with Ms Ganieva, previous, current, formal or casual.”
Farber added: “They’ve by no means met or communicated together with her or any of her representatives. These, and the remainder of the claims filed by Mr Black’s attorneys, provide a concocted, ever-evolving conspiracy principle, full of false data and are usually not based mostly in actuality.”
Apollo mentioned it had nothing to do with the lawsuits between Black and Ganieva and added: “That is a completely private matter.”
Black introduced his departure as Apollo’s chief government final January, after an investigation by legislation agency Dechert discovered he had paid $158m to Epstein over a five-year interval ending in 2017. His successor was named as Marc Rowan, one other senior Apollo accomplice who for years had been Harris’s peer.
In keeping with Black’s submitting, Harris grew to become “enraged” at that call, and “cast forward with a malicious marketing campaign to take Mr Black down”.
Ganieva filed her lawsuit towards Black final June. “Her false claims are seeded and amplified by Mr Rubenstein — the identical PR guru who already has performed Mr Harris’ work in spreading rumours about Mr Black’s alleged sexual misconduct,” Black’s attorneys claimed.