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Lawmakers Question Bank of America About Leon Black’s Payments to Epstein

A U.S. Senate committee investigating the tax avoidance work that Jeffrey Epstein, the registered sex offender, did for the private equity mogul Leon Black has questioned Bank of America over Mr. Black’s hefty payments to Mr. Epstein, according to a letter viewed by The New York Times.

This month, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent the bank a letter asking about the extent of due diligence it conducted before processing $158 million in payments that Mr. Black made to Mr. Epstein from 2012 to 2017 for that tax work.

The letter also asked whether any bank employees had raised concerns about the purpose of those payments. They included fees paid to Mr. Epstein for advising on a sophisticated trust that saved Mr. Black more than $1 billion in taxes. Banks are required to file suspicious activity reports, or SARs, with financial regulators for any transaction they consider questionable.

Mr. Black’s decades-long business dealings and personal relationship with Mr. Epstein have dogged him ever since Mr. Epstein was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019. (Mr. Epstein hanged himself in a federal jail a month after his arrest.) Mr. Black, a co-founder of Apollo Global Management, with a net worth of $13 billion, ultimately stepped down from all leadership posts because of the controversy.

In the letter, dated April 4, Mr. Wyden said the committee believed the payments to Mr. Epstein for tax work came from accounts Mr. Black had at Bank of America. He also asked whether any art transactions involving Mr. Epstein and Mr. Black, a well-known art collector, had raised concerns internally.

Whit Clay, a spokesman for Mr. Black, said, “The transactions the committee reviewed were both lawful and conceived, vetted and executed by reputable law firms and tax advisers.” He added that Mr. Black “has paid all taxes owed to the government” and provided detailed information to the committee.”

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