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Russian model suing Leon Black alleges billionaire's ties to Jeffrey Epstein

NEW YORK, Aug 10 (Reuters) - A woman who accused billionaire Leon Black of sexual violence and defamation is now alleging the former Apollo Global Management Inc chief once flew her to Florida for a potential sexual encounter with Jeffrey Epstein, the late financier and sex offender.

Guzel Ganieva’s latest accusation came in an amended civil complaint filed on Monday in a New York state court.

The Russian model had sued Black on June 1, and Black countersued for defamation on July 19. Both are seeking unspecified damages.

“Ms. Ganieva’s story today is demonstrably and transparently false and betrays her willingness to say anything and fabricate a story in the hope that something will stick,” Danya Perry, a lawyer for Black, said in a statement on Monday.

Ganieva, now in her late 30s, previously accused Black of numerous instances of unwanted sexual conduct before having her sign a nondisclosure agreement in 2015, and defamation for publicly accusing her of trying to extort him.

Black’s lawyers have said their client, who is married, had a consensual 6-1/2-year relationship with Ganieva, and paid her $100,000 a month for several years not to discuss it.

In Monday’s complaint, Ganieva said Black picked her up in October 2008, purportedly for a lunch in Manhattan, but instead took her on a private jet to Florida, where Epstein had a home.

The complaint said Epstein had been on work release, after pleading guilty to a Florida state prostitution charge.

It said that after Ganieva met Epstein, and “it became clear that Ms. Ganieva would not be engaging in sex with Epstein, Epstein and Black became angry and upset with Ms. Ganieva.”

Perry said in her statement that she had asked a judge to order the production of “documentary evidence that will expose Ms. Ganieva and unmask her confederates and their illegal conduct.”

Jeanne Christensen, a lawyer for Ganieva, said in a statement the amended complaint exposed Black’s counterclaims as an attempt “to inflict extreme pain upon Ms. Ganieva while making good on his threats to destroy her life.”

Black, 70, stepped down as Apollo’s chief executive and chairman this year after an independent review by the Dechert law firm said he paid Epstein $158 million for tax and estate planning.

The review found Black was not involved with Epstein’s criminal activities. Black said at the time he deeply regretted his involvement with Epstein.

Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Howard Goller

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