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Leon Black says accuser, eyeing payday, made up Jeffrey Epstein claims

Stock MarketsSep 08, 2021 03:45PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Leon Black is pictured here in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman suing former Apollo Global Management (NYSE:APO) Inc Chief Executive Leon Black for sexual abuse and defamation made up "demonstrably false" new accusations linking him to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Black's lawyers said on Wednesday.

The claim in a New York state court filing was in response to Guzel Ganieva's amended civil lawsuit, where she said the private equity billionaire flew her to Florida in 2008 for a possible sexual encounter with his "best friend," Epstein.

"Black's billions and his powerful connections will not prevent the truth from coming out," Ganieva's lawyer, Jeanne Christensen, said in a statement. "We are confident that a jury of Ms. Ganieva's peers will hold Black accountable."

Ganieva, a former Russian model in her late 30s, is seeking unspecified damages from Black, accusing the 70-year-old of rape and other sexual abuse, forcing her to sign a 2015 nondisclosure agreement, and defaming her by claiming she tried to extort him.

Black, who is married, has denied the abuse claims. He has also said he paid Ganieva $100,000 a month for several years not to discuss their consensual 6-1/2-year relationship, after she demanded $100 million.

The payments stopped after Ganieva tweeted about Black in March.

In Wednesday's filing, Black's lawyers challenged Ganieva's "miraculous sudden recall" for her Aug. 9 amended complaint of "shocking acts of sexual torture and threats to traffic her" that were omitted from her original June 1 complaint.

The lawyers said these included "gratuitous" claims involving Epstein that flight records and other evidence would show were untrue.

"Ganieva has a history of inventing tales of bullying, harassment, disrespect -- and worse -- in the hopes of winning a payday for herself," the filing said.

Black stepped down from Apollo this year after an outside independent review found he had paid Epstein $158 million for tax and estate planning.

The review also said Black was not involved in Epstein's criminal activities.

Black has publicly said he regretted his involvement with Epstein, who killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Wednesday's filing also said Black was no longer pursuing his earlier defamation counterclaims against Ganieva, a move his lawyers have said would let him focus on defending himself.

Ganieva's lawyers have said court rules forbade withdrawing the counterclaims because their client had responded to them, and that Black countersued to win positive media attention.

Leon Black says accuser, eyeing payday, made up Jeffrey Epstein claims

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