Wall Street billionaire Leon Black denied sexual harassment allegations made by a former model, and said he paid her to keep the ‘affair’ quiet

Leon Black
Leon Black, former CEO and chairman of Apollo Global Management.

  • Leon Black denied sexual harassment allegations, and said they weren’t linked to his exit from Apollo.
  • Black in a statement that he paid the former model, Guzel Ganieva, to keep the “consensual affair” a secret.
  • Ganieva tweeted in March she had been “sexually harassed and abused” by Black for years.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Leon Black, the former CEO Apollo Global Management, on Thursday denied sexual harassment allegations made against him by a former model, and said their “consensual affair” had nothing to do with his departure from the firm.

He also said that he paid the woman, Guzel Ganieva, to keep their affair a secret from the public.

His comments came after the New York Post reported Thursday that his exit from Apollo on March 22 happened days after Ganieva’s accusations came to light.

Ganieva tweeted on March 17 that she had been “sexually harassed and abused” by Black “for years.” She said it began in 2008, when she met him to discuss work. She “refused his sexual advances” at the time, she said.

“I was bullied, manipulated, threatened, and coerced,” Ganieva said, adding: “I was forced to sign an NDA in 2015.”

Following the Post’s report, Black issued a statement denying the allegations, and also saying they were unrelated to his departure.

“I foolishly had a consensual affair with Ms. Ganieva that ended more than seven years ago,” Black said in the statement, per Bloomberg. “Any allegation of harassment or any other inappropriate behavior towards her is completely fabricated.”

Black, 69, said that he gave Ganieva money to keep quiet about their affair. “The truth is that I have been extorted by Ms. Ganieva for many years and I 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.”

He said the situation was “personal” and “has nothing to do with Apollo or my decision to step away from the firm.”

Ganieva told Bloomberg: “I stand by what I said in my tweets on March 17.”

The Wall Street billionaire stepped down as CEO and chairman of Apollo on March 22. His exit came after an independent investigation showed he paid $158 million to the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein between 2012 to 2017. The investigation said neither Black nor Apollo employees were involved in Epstein’s criminal activities.

Jay Clayton, the former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, is now chairman, and Apollo cofounder Marc Rowan has taken over as CEO.

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Apollo is offering some associates retention bonuses of up to $200,000 to stay on until 2022 after a year of insane hours and rapid-fire deals

Leon Black
Leon Black, who stepped down as CEO of Apollo Global Management on Monday.

  • Investment giant Apollo is offering some associates six-figure ‘retention’ bonuses in the wake of exits in New York City.
  • The bonuses range from $100,000 for first-years to $200,000 for third-years, according to two people briefed on the matter.
  • The bonuses will be paid in April and come with an agreement that associates stay until September 2022, these people said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Investment giant Apollo Global Management is offering six-figure retention bonuses to some of its private-equity associates after several young executives quit the firm, Insider has learned.

Seven out of 30 New York City associates have left the firm in recent weeks, Insider previously reported. Current and former employees who spoke with Insider about the exodus described a relentless workload that has become even more intense during the pandemic as the firm – well-known for its distressed buying strategies – pounced on opportunities.

In an effort to stem the exits, Apollo has extended $100,000, $150,000, and $200,000 bonuses for first-year, second year, and third-year associates, respectively, to be paid in April, according to two people familiar with the matter. The bonuses come with the stipulation that associates stay with Apollo at least until September 2022.

And they come on top of pay packages that are already at the top of the market: First-year associates at Apollo receive a total of more than $450,000, according to these people, who declined to speak publicly to preserve their relationships at the firm.

Apollo executives Matt Nord and David Sambur, who co-lead the firm’s private equity group, have been making the offers to employees via phone calls, according to these sources.

Insider could not determine how widespread the bonuses were. One Apollo employee said several associates they had spoken with had not received the bonuses, meaning that the bonuses could have been offered to a select group of associates.

It could also mean that Apollo is in the early stages of rolling out the bonuses.

Joanna Rose, an Apollo spokeswoman, did not address the specific bonuses when asked, but said that the firm’s private-equity business has been and continues to be “extremely active,” putting more than $12 billion to work in the past year across a “diverse set of opportunities.”

“With recent wins such as Sun Country IPO, Diamond/HGV merger and Synnex/TechData merger, we continue to recognize the impact of our extraordinary teams,” she said.

The offers show how far one of the largest investment firms is willing to go to deal with a talent drain among its junior employees, who have grappled with burnout fueled by long-hours and remote work.

They come as concerns about associate morale have cropped up at financial services firms across Wall Street. Last week an internal presentation by 13 demoralized Goldman Sachs analysts described 100-hour work weeks and a mental and physical toll during COVID.

Firms have been taking steps to address the concerns, though no action has been as extreme as Apollo’s. Jefferies has offered Peloton bikes and other workout gear for junior staffers, while Goldman Sachs has vowed to improve conditions for junior bankers, though it has not yet said how.

The additional compensation will make associate jobs at Apollo – already one of the highest-paying entry points on Wall Street – even more lucrative. The typical starting salary of $450,000 for first-years comes with subsequent $100,000 raises annually; third-years can earn up to $725,000, according to these people.

The position offers a four-year career track to principal and, from there, partner – a position that typically earns millions of dollars annually.

Young executives are key to the private-equity group’s success, handling the grunt work of preparing presentations and analyses that higher executives use to evaluate and pursue deals.

The group has been active in recent months, buying a $1.2 billion stake with Silver Lake Partners in the travel website Expedia and a $1.75 billion interest in the grocery-store operator Albertsons. It also recently completed a $2.25 billion deal to control and operate the Venetian resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Apollo’s new CEO, Marc Rowan, has signaled that he prioritizes making Apollo a more enticing place to work. Rowan has said in recent weeks that one of his primary areas of focus will be to improve Apollo’s famously ruthless culture.

Apollo had previously stated that Rowan, a co-founder at the firm who is credited with building its expansive insurance business, would take over the chief executive role from Leon Black, the company’s chief founder, who would relinquish the role by his 70th birthday in July.

In a surprise announcement on Monday, the firm stated that Black would step down immediately and also vacate his role as chairman of Apollo’s board, a position he had previously intended to keep. The firm’s announcement cited health issues as a reason for Black’s change of plans.

Black’s departure followed revelations in an investigation commissioned by Apollo and released at the beginning of the year that he had paid the convicted pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, $158 million for tax and business services.

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