Conrad Black’s U.S. legal war ends in $4.1 million fine

AFP-JIJI

Fallen media baron Conrad Black’s last battle with U.S. prosecutors has ended with a $4.1 million fine and a ban on him leading public companies, securities officials said Thursday.

Black returned to Canada last year after serving 37 months behind bars in the United States on charges of fraud and obstruction of justice.

The fine announced Thursday ends a long-running civil lawsuit that had been put on hold while his criminal case worked its way through the courts.

The settlement comes after he reached a deal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month. The agreement, which was approved by a judge on Tuesday, saves Black $2 million in fines previously assessed against him in October.

In exchange, Black agreed to drop his appeal and accept the allegations that he misled shareholders.

Black, who once owned Britain’s biggest-selling broadsheet newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, is set to face Canadian securities officials on Friday.

His legal battles began in 2004 when he was accused of siphoning off tens of millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers owned by Hollinger International, his holding company. Criminal charges were laid a year later.

Black, a prolific writer and historian in his own right, vehemently maintained his innocence and launched a series of libel lawsuits in Canada to strike back at the detractors he blames for destroying his once vast empire.

But years of legal battles — which went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court — failed to fully clear his name, although he did manage to greatly reduce his prison time by clearing himself of many of the charges.