Conrad Black says he isn’t too worried about an upcoming hearing with the Ontario Securities Commission given the fact that many of the charges brought against him in the past have been dismissed or overturned.
The former newspaper executive said Wednesday that he feels any serious legal problems are behind him, and doesn’t appreciate the way leftover matters are often portrayed in the media as much bigger than they are.
“This is the OSC that has abandoned 99 per cent of the case that it brought against me in 2005 and that ignored its own staff’s strong recommendation and the votes of 88 per cent of the minority shareholders and disallowed our offer to privatize Hollinger Inc., enabling the charlatans and bloodsuckers gullible, meddling judges had put in charge of the company to plunder the company until it went bankrupt …,” he said in an e-mail to The Canadian Press, adding that a court-ordered inspection of his time at Hollinger Inc. failed to find “one misspent cent” in his 27 years as head of that company.
“The shareholders, whom the OSC’s raison d’etre it is to protect, were thus deprived of $300-million,” he said.
The commission is seeking to put restrictions on the ability of Black and two other executives to buy or trade in securities and become directors of any company, and is seeking payment for any investigative or legal costs. It announced on Friday it would restart the case since proceedings in the U.S. have wrapped up, and that it was withdrawing its allegations against Hollinger Inc. The company is in court protection from its creditors and subject to a cease trade order.
Black, Peter Atkinson and John Boultbee were found guilty of three counts of fraud each by a U.S. jury in 2007, and Black was also convicted of one count of obstruction of justice. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later tossed two of the three fraud convictions against the men after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that one of the laws used to convict had been too broadly applied.
Black has not yet determined whether he will attend the Aug. 16 hearing in person or not, adding that after so many years in the spotlight, he doesn’t feel much need to defend himself anymore.
He considers that he won the case against him in the United States, and that “it is over, apart from comparative trivialities.”
“I’m beyond tired of the media’s endless repetition of my supposed status as a felon when all counts were disposed of and no other civilized country in the world except the U.S. would have allowed a lower court that had been overturned and excoriated by the high court to resurrect its own convictions in an exercise of assessing the gravity of its own errors,” he said.
As a result of the initial verdict, Black was sentenced to 42 months and fined $125,000, serving 37 months in a Florida prison. Boultbee was sentenced to time served, fined $500 and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Sun-Times Media Group. Atkinson was given time served and fined $3,000.
The OSC and Black’s former business partner, David Radler, reached a plea agreement last year. Ahead of Black’s trial, Radler had pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud at U.S District Court, and was sentenced to 29 months in jail and ordered to pay a fine of $250,000. He also had to testify against his former colleagues.
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