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Law society seeks $10,000 from former Hollinger executive

Peter Atkinson, a former Hollinger Inc. executive who was a co-defendant of Conrad Black, is being asked to pay back $10,000 in legal costs as part of a Law Society of Upper Canada decision.

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Peter Atkinson, a former Hollinger Inc. executive who was a co-defendant of Conrad Black, is being asked to pay back $10,000 in legal costs as part of a Law Society of Upper Canada decision.

A law society hearing last month found that Mr. Atkinson engaged in conduct unbecoming for a barrister and solicitor in relation to mail-fraud convictions handed down in a Chicago court in much-publicized case eight years ago.

The society had already suspended him for two years as of Aug. 30, 2008, but is now limiting the scope of his practice for another two years.

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The June 17 decision, released on Tuesday, says Mr. Atkinson may provide legal services only as an employee of a licensee or as part of a contract, and prohibits him from practising as a sole practitioner or as partner in a firm.

He has also been asked to pay costs to the law society within a month of the decision.

Mr. Black, Mr. Atkinson and John Boultbee have been scheduled to appear before the Ontario Securities Commission on Aug. 16 to face charges initially filed in March, 2005. Those charges were put on hold because of legal action in the United States, but the OSC said last week that it had decided to restart its case since those proceedings have wrapped up.

Mr. Black, Mr. Boultbee and Mr. Atkinson are accused of cheating shareholders and tax authorities in the United States and Canada by improperly diverting proceeds from the now-defunct media giant Hollinger International Inc. to themselves through "non-competition" payments.

It is alleged that they did not have approval for these payments, and had made misrepresentations about them through public disclosure.

The men were found guilty of three counts of fraud each by a U.S. jury in 2007.

Mr. Black was also convicted of one count of obstruction of justice for removing documents from the Toronto offices of Hollinger. He was sentenced to 42 months and fined $125,000, serving 37 months in a Florida prison.

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Mr. Boultbee was sentenced to time served, fined $500 and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Sun-Times Media Group. Mr. Atkinson was given time served and fined $3,000.

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