Former Telegraph owner Black guilty of fraud

Former Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black has been found guilty of fraud.

Lord Black of Crossharbour was also convicted of obstruction of justice by a jury at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago, Illinois.

He was accused with other Hollinger International executives of stealing £30 million from the shareholders of Hollinger International – which as well as the Telegraph Group, owned an empire of newspaper titles across the world.

Prosecutors alleged that Black and other executives behaved like bank robbers and street thugs secretly swindling the shareholders out of their money.

The jury heard details of Lord Black’s lavish lifestyle, which the prosecution claimed was partly funded in this way.

The jury finally delivered verdicts on the 62-year-old former Daily Telegraph owner and once-powerful chief executive of the Hollinger newspaper empire on the 12th day of deliberations.

The nine women and three men on the jury cleared him of charges of racketeering and tax evasion.

Black was convicted of three counts of fraud but cleared of a further six.

The jury had to consider 42 counts against the four defendants in a highly complex trial.

They had heard the prosecution alleged that the £30 million mainly came from the sale of hundreds of Hollinger-owned US and Canadian regional newspapers between 1998 and 2001, in which the buyers paid large sums in return for agreements that Hollinger would not compete with the new owners.

The jury heard from more than 40 witnesses during 14 weeks of evidence before they retired to consider their verdicts on Wednesday June 27.

Black, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, faced nine counts of mail and wire fraud, two counts of tax evasion and one count each of racketeering and obstruction of justice.

The billionaire was accused, amongst other things, of cheating Hollinger International by taking the company plane on a holiday to Bora Bora in French Polynesia, billing shareholders 40,000 dollars (£20,000) for his wife’s surprise birthday party, and paying below the market rate when he bought a company apartment on New York’s Park Avenue.

Defence lawyers said the US government was trying to sow prejudice among the middle-class Chicago jurors by stressing the wealthy newspaper executive’s “champagne and caviar” lifestyle.

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