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Lawmakers Query Financial institution of America About Leon Black’s Funds to Epstein

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A U.S. Senate committee investigating the tax avoidance work that Jeffrey Epstein, the registered intercourse offender, did for the non-public fairness mogul Leon Black has questioned Financial institution of America over Mr. Black’s hefty funds to Mr. Epstein, in accordance with a letter considered by The New York Instances.

This month, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, despatched the financial institution a letter asking in regards to the extent of due diligence it carried out earlier than processing $158 million in funds that Mr. Black made to Mr. Epstein from 2012 to 2017 for that tax work.

The letter additionally requested whether or not any financial institution staff had raised issues in regards to the objective of these funds. They included charges paid to Mr. Epstein for advising on a complicated belief that saved Mr. Black greater than $1 billion in taxes. Banks are required to file suspicious exercise reviews, or SARs, with monetary regulators for any transaction they think about questionable.

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Mr. Black’s decades-long enterprise dealings and private relationship with Mr. Epstein have dogged him ever since Mr. Epstein was arrested on federal intercourse trafficking prices in July 2019. (Mr. Epstein hanged himself in a federal jail a month after his arrest.) Mr. Black, a co-founder of Apollo International Administration, with a internet price of $13 billion, in the end stepped down from all management posts due to the controversy.

Within the letter, dated April 4, Mr. Wyden mentioned the committee believed the funds to Mr. Epstein for tax work got here from accounts Mr. Black had at Financial institution of America. He additionally requested whether or not any artwork transactions involving Mr. Epstein and Mr. Black, a well known artwork collector, had raised issues internally.

Whit Clay, a spokesman for Mr. Black, mentioned, “The transactions the committee reviewed have been each lawful and conceived, vetted and executed by respected legislation corporations and tax advisers.” He added that Mr. Black “has paid all taxes owed to the federal government” and offered detailed info to the committee.”

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The function of massive banks in facilitating Mr. Epstein’s intercourse trafficking of teenage women and younger ladies got here below scrutiny final 12 months when JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $290 million to greater than 100 of his victims, and Deutsche Financial institution reached a $75 million settlement with lots of these victims.

Final summer season the Senate committee introduced that it was investigating the work Mr. Epstein did for Mr. Black as a part of an examination of authorized “tax dodging” schemes utilized by the ultrarich. The committee had mentioned it needed to study extra about Mr. Epstein’s “extraordinary compensation” bundle and the precise particulars of the tax avoidance methods Mr. Epstein designed for Mr. Black.

Mr. Wyden, within the letter to the Financial institution of America chief government, Brian Moynihan, mentioned the committee was attempting to find out whether or not the options Mr. Epstein got here up with to assist Mr. Black keep away from billions of {dollars} in taxes have been “executed in a fashion in line with federal tax legal guidelines.”

A spokesman for Financial institution of America declined to remark.

When the federal authorities raided Mr. Epstein’s residence within the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2019, shortly after his dying, they discovered a raft of Financial institution of America financial institution statements belonging to Mr. Black, in accordance with paperwork from Mr. Epstein’s property that have been reviewed by The Instances. Brokers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation unfold the financial institution statements out on the ground to {photograph} them.

The property paperwork reviewed by The Instances additionally present that an worker of Mr. Black’s household workplace requested Mr. Epstein to evaluate a draft of the billionaire’s 1,700-page federal tax return in 2018. Mr. Epstein, in accordance with the paperwork, gave him recommendation on hedge fund investments, distribution of Apollo partnership pursuits, belief and property work, and artwork offers — together with the sale of an Alberto Giacometti sculpture during which Mr. Epstein was a stealth purchaser.

For a few years, Financial institution of America was the primary supplier of artwork loans to Mr. Black, whose $1 billion non-public assortment consists of works by Edvard Munch, Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, in accordance with company filings.

Within the letter to Mr. Moynihan, Mr. Wyden additionally requested whether or not the financial institution had achieved any inside evaluate into the sale of art work that raised issues about whether or not “Epstein was performing as a straw purchaser or vendor.”

A spokesman for the Senate Finance Committee declined to remark.

Mr. Black initially downplayed his connection to Mr. Epstein. However in 2020, after The Instances reported on the in depth monetary and private ties between the 2 males, Mr. Black requested Apollo’s board to rent the legislation agency Dechert to evaluate the appropriateness of all his dealings with Mr. Epstein. The 22-page Dechert report, issued in early 2021, cleared Mr. Black of any wrongdoing or information of Mr. Epstein’s predatory sexual abuse. It additionally concluded that Mr. Epstein gave Mr. Black official tax recommendation.

Final 12 months, Mr. Black, with out admitting any wrongdoing, agreed to pay $62.5 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands to keep away from a lawsuit arising from the territory’s investigation into the financing of Mr. Epstein’s intercourse trafficking operation.

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