Wall Street billionaire Leon Black raped and harassed Russian model for years, claims lawsuit

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Leon Black, chairman and chief executive officer of Apollo Global Management LLC, at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - Patrick T. Fallon /Bloomberg
Leon Black, chairman and chief executive officer of Apollo Global Management LLC, at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - Patrick T. Fallon /Bloomberg

Leon Black, the Wall Street billionaire, has been accused of rape and sexual harassment by a Russian former model in a defamation lawsuit.

Guzel Ganieva, with whom Mr Black has said he had a "consensual affair", said the businessman lied and defamed her when he claimed she had extorted him.

In the filing, Ms Ganieva accused Mr Black of "repeated and unwanted sexual conduct" over several years and gave specific details of an alleged rape from 2014.

The former model, who is in her late 30s, first went public with her claims in March, claiming the abuse began when she met Mr Black at an International Women's Day event in 2008.

She described it as a "choreographed plan" to gain her trust which led to Mr Black committing "sadistic sexual acts on her without her consent".

Mr Black fiercely denied the claims of harassment or other inappropriate behaviour, saying in interviews he had “foolishly had a consensual affair with Ms Ganieva".

“The truth is that I have been extorted by Ms Ganieva for many years and I 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,” he said.

In her filing, Ms Ganieva said Mr Black's comments had caused her professional and economic harm.

She claimed the businessman moved to silence her by coercing her into a nondisclosure agreement in 2015, in exchange for forgiving $960,000 of loans he had made and which she could not repay.

Mr Black, 69, co-founded and led the private equity firm Apollo Global Management for more than 30 years but stepped down this year over his ties to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

An independent review found Mr Black had paid Epstein $158million (£116m) for tax and estate planning advice.

There was no evidence Mr Black was involved in the criminal activities of the late financier, who killed himself in prison while awaiting further child sex charges in 2019.

Mr Black said at the time he deeply regretted his involvement with Epstein.

Ms Ganieva's lawsuit, filed in a New York state court, seeks unspecified "monetary damages and other relief".

"Ms Ganieva's allegations of harassment and other inappropriate behavior are categorically untrue," said a spokesman for Mr Black.

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