If you thought it was odd last month that Leon Black stepped down from Apollo Global Management four months earlier than planned, that there must have been something more than the mere revelation that he’d given more that twice as much money to a convicted sex criminal than initially reported behind it, that the bland platitudes about having been scrutinized for maintaining a long-term friendship and business relationship with a pedophile and sex trafficker having a deleterious effect on his health and that of his wife were a bit too pat, well, Leon Black assures you there most definitely wasn’t.

“This is entirely a personal matter; this matter has nothing to do with Apollo or my decision to step away from the firm.”

We mean, sure, the timing of the revelation of that “personal matter”—an affair with a Russian model which we could very much imagine having a negative impact on Debra Black’s well-being—and Black’s hastened and more complete-than-expected exit certainly seems suspicious, he assures us that the two have nothing to do with one another, and also that said Russian model is a total liar except about the sex part.

Neither Black nor Apollo mentioned at the time that days leading up to the resignation at least four of Apollo’s 12 board members had become aware of a series of little-noticed but explosive tweets by Güzel Ganieva, a former model who claimed to have been “forced to sign an NDA in 2015” relating to allegations that Black “sexually harassed and abused ” her, according to sources close to the situation….

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

Black added that he believes he was being “extorted” by Ganieva because he had allegedly “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.”

The billionaire said he has referred the matter to “the criminal authorities” at the recommendation of his counsel and welcomes “a thorough investigation.”

We’re sure he does. After all, unlike the previous round of “thorough investigations,” Black doesn’t have anything left to lose from this one.

Leon Black’s surprise Apollo Global exit came amid sexual harassment allegation [N.Y. Post]

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