Conrad Black’s long-standing legal battle with the Ontario Securities Commission will continue in October, but the former media mogul’s lawyer says he’s considering a request to have the proceedings stayed.
Black’s lawyer Peter Howard called the proceedings “entirely unnecessary” and said in a brief hearing Friday morning that he was considering a motion to stay – or stop – the OSC’s case.
A confidential pre-trial hearing was then set for Oct. 21.
Black, the former head of the Hollinger media empire, was not at the hearing but his two co-accused – former company executives Peter Atkinson and John Boultbee – were present via teleconference.
The Ontario Securities Commission alleges directors and officers of Hollinger Inc. and Hollinger International engaged in “a scheme” to line their pockets with company proceeds through a complicated system of “non-competition” payments.
The OSC’s case deals with many of the same issues covered by U.S. court and regulatory decisions.
The U.S. securities regulator on Thursday banned Black from acting as a director of a U.S. company and said he must pay $4.1 million in restitution in a settlement that ends a long-standing lawsuit over Black’s dealings as the head of the Hollinger media empire.
The final judgment by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission followed Black’s appeal of an October 2012 SEC judgment that ordered him to pay $6.1 million. He was released from U.S. prison more than a year ago after serving a sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice.
The $4.1 million will be paid to Chicago Newspaper Liquidation Corp, formerly known as the Sun-Times Media Group, which was a Hollinger successor company in the United States.
Now that the lawsuits in the United States have wrapped up, regulators in Canada are moving ahead with their own proceedings to determine whether Black and his former colleagues should be banned from buying or trading in securities and from becoming directors of a public company in Ontario.
In November, it will be a decade since Black agreed to resign as chief executive of his main U.S. company after an internal review accused him and others of improperly diverting money from Hollinger International to Hollinger Inc.
Hollinger International was a U.S. public company, under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission, while Hollinger Inc. is a Canadian company under the OSC’s purview.
Most of the OSC’s original allegations against Hollinger and its senior executives and officers, filed in March 2005, were removed in a revised version issued July 12.
The revised OSC statement replaces pages of allegations from the OSC staff with a summary of U.S. proceedings against Black and two of his former senior executives. However, the OSC enforcement staff reserved the right to bring forward further allegations.
Black, Atkinson and 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.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later tossed two of the three fraud convictions against the men because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that one of the laws used to convict had been too broadly applied.
Black ended up serving 37 months out of a 42-month sentence in a Florida prison, and was fined $125,000.
Among Hollinger’s holdings were the Daily Telegraph, a major London-based newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times and numerous Canadian publications including the National Post, which Black founded.
With files from Reuters