Senators investigate billionaire Leon Black, $158 million paid to Jeffrey Epstein

July 25 (UPI) — The Senate Finance Committee is investigating $158 million paid to accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein by billionaire and Apollo Global Management co-founder Leon Black for tax and estate-planning advice.

Finance committee chairman Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., revealed the investigation Tuesday, calling it an inquiry into how “ultra-high net worth persons avoid or evade paying federal taxes, including gift and estate taxes.”

Wyden said the investigation uncovered serious tax issues, allowing Black — who is a private equity investor — to avoid more than $1 billion in future gift and estate taxes. The investigation alleges Black paid the late disgraced financier a total of $158 million in several installments between 2012 and 2017.

“Despite not being a certified public accountant or licensed tax attorney, Epstein was paid amounts that far exceeded what you paid other professional advisors, including some of the most high-priced legal counsel in the nation,” Wyden wrote.

Epstein, a billionaire financier, died by suicide in August 2019 while in federal prison in New York, where he was being held on sex trafficking charges.

Wyden’s letter to Black on Monday requests further clarification on a number of tax issues.

“Unfortunately, the inadequate responses you have provided the committee only raise more questions than answers, and fail to address a number of tax issues my staff has uncovered over the course of this investigation,” Wyden wrote in a letter to Black.

“These investigations include the avoidance of billions of dollars in income, gift and estate taxes through the use of tax shelters such as Private Placement Life Insurance; the possible circumvention of laws related to gift taxes and deductions involving the complementary use of private aircraft/superyachts by public officials; and the use of Swiss banks by wealthy taxpayers to expatriate from the United States and evade gift taxes while concealing offshore accounts from the Internal Revenue Service,” Wyden wrote.

Specifically, Wyden is seeking documents to show how Epstein’s payments were calculated, along with his role in helping Black to “avoid federal gift and estate taxes on as much as $2 billion in wealth transferred to your children.”

A spokesperson for Black said Tuesday the billionaire has answered more than a dozen of the committee’s questions and provided more than 150 pages of his personal tax and estate documents. Black “has cooperated extensively with the committee, providing detailed information about the matters under review,” his spokesperson said.

“The transactions referenced in the committee’s letter were lawful in all respects, were conceived of, vetted and implemented by reputable law firms and tax and other advisors, and Mr. Black has fully paid all taxes owed to the government.”


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