Conrad Black

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Conrad M. Black was Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Operating Officer of Hollinger International Inc.. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Nixon Center. He is married to far-right columnist and socialite Barbara Amiel.[1] In July 2007 Black was convicted by a Chicago jury of three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. In December 2007, Black was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.[2]

Profiles

Following his fall from grace with Hollinger in late 2003, Christopher Grimes and John Lloyd wrote in the London Financial Times that Black was a more effective as a conservative political advocate than a businessman. "Yet Conrad Black's business ambitions probably always ran second to his urge to be an intellectual force of conservatism. He did not want to simply own newspapers. He wanted to use them to help to reshape the political culture of his native Canada, and to influence that of the United States, Britain and Israel", they wrote. [1]

Matthew Fraser, the current editor-in-chief of Canada's National Post - a Hollinger publication - defends Black as having made a significant impact on Canadian policies. "He (Fraser) says its push for lower corporate taxes has made the issue 'legitimate'. Its criticism of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation forced the public broadcaster to be less "biased and left-wing". And its support for the invasion of Iraq, free trade and general pro-Americanism have added much-needed debate," Grimes and Lloyd wrote. However, Black became known for taking over newspapers and restructuring the different departments, resulting in job losses. [2]

He is known politically for his staunch criticism of the Liberal Party of Canada.

In 1999, the British Labour government decided to give Black a peerage. This resulted in strong opposition in Canada and particularly from Prime Minister Jean Chretien. The Nickle Resolution of 1919, ruled that foreign governments could not grant honours to Canadians that carry a title or privilege. Black challenged the ruling unsuccessfully in court. However Black gave up his Canadian citizenship and was subsequently inducted into the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour on October 31, 2001.[3]

Black as a Media Mogul

The National Post, was first published in late October 1998 to compete with The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun. On July 31, 2000 Hollinger sold a half of the National Post, 13 major Canadian newspapers, 126 community newspapers and internet sites to CanWest for $3.2 billion. [3] Hollinger's reamining share was sold in the latter half of 2001.

Maude Barlow, the chair of the Council of Canadians, is cited by Leiterman stating Black is known to "routinely intervene in editorial policy-making". [4]

Leiterman also cites Radler, Hollinger's president, as telling Maclean's (2/3/92): "If editors disagree with us they should disagree with us when they're no longer in our employ. The buck stops with ownership. I am responsible for meeting the payroll; therefore I will ultimately determine what the papers say and how they're going to be run." [5]

Hollinger also owned the Jerusalem Post. John O'Sullivan, a friend of Black and the editor of the US journal, the National Interest, told the Financial Times in early 2004 that the Jerusalem Post "supports the policies of the right and broadcasts them to the world - something which people weren't used to, because it had always been the Israeli left which commanded the stage". [4] (Later that year Hollinger sold the Jerusalem Post to the Israeli publisher Mirkaei Tikshore. [5]

In September 2003 that newspaper advocated killing Yasser Arafat. This was quickly raised by the Israeli Cabinet, but described by Colin L. Powell, Condoleeza Rice as "unhelpful" and by The Economist as "wrong".

In 2002, Black was among the investors who contributed $20 million to start up The New York Sun.[6]

In May 2004, Hollinger International, now free of Black's control, filed a $1.25 billion racketeering lawsuit against Black and other former corporate insiders, accusing them of pillaging the company of more than $400 million [6][7]. In October, a judge dismissed the racketeering claims, and Hollinger refiled without them, adding Richard N. Perle as a defendant.

On November 15, 2004, the US Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud lawsuit against Black and Radler, alleging that they improperly diverted $85 million to their own use[8]. In March 2005, the US revealed that it was also conducting a criminal investigation of Black and Radler.[7]

In November 2005 federal prosecutors charged Black with eight counts of mail and wire fraud and accused of diverting $51.8 million of Hollinger shareholders money to himself and associates. Black rejects the charges.

On March 30, 2006, Black lost his battle to keep important documents away from US prosecutors in his fraud trial. U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve, denied Black's motion to quash a subpoena to access 13 boxes of documents that Black removed from his Toronto office after he was notified that he was being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Incriminating evidence showed a security video tape showing Black loading the boxes into his limousine on May 20, 2005, which was only hours after he was served a request for documents by the SEC which was investigating allegation that Black and other executives looted Hollinger International Inc. of more than $80 million dollars. [9] [10]

Also on March 30, 2006, a report in the Globe and Mail claimed that the Internal Revenue Service wants banking records for a Barbados company that Black allegedly used to stash cash offshore. In 2004, a report from a special directors committee of Hollinger International alleged that Black used the Barbados company, Argent News Inc., "to avoid taxes on some of the millions he is accused of skimming when he was the company's chairman". [11]

On April 13, 2006, The Guardian published a story in which it claims that Hollinger International Inc. has agreed to pay the majority of Black's legal bills. Black had argued that the company should provide 100% of his legal fees and filed a law suit demanding advances to cover his costs in March 2004. Intrestingly under the settlement, Black would be forced to repay the money if it is determined that he is not indemnified by the company's insurance policy. [8]

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. "The Guardian profile: Barbara Amiel", The Guardian, SEptember 3, 2004.
  2. "Conrad Black sentenced to 78 months in jail", CBC News, December 10, 2007.
  3. "Can Conrad Black keep his title if he becomes a Canadian citizen again?", CBC News, September 2006.
  4. Christopher Grimes and John Lloyd, "The end of the line", FT.com, January 23, 2004.
  5. "Hollinger to sell Jerusalem Post", BBC News, November 17, 2004.
  6. Eric Boehlert, "The New York Sun's not-so-bright debut", Salon.com, April 25, 2002.
  7. "Black facing US criminal inquiry", The Guardian, March 24, 2005.
  8. "Hollinger International agrees to pay bulk of Black's legal bills", The Guardian, April 13, 2006.

Profiles

Timelines

Books

  • Tom Bower, Conrad and lady Black: dancing on the edge, HarperPress, Novermber 2006. ISBN 0007232349

External articles