Media baron Conrad Black, three others charged in federal fraud indictment

Media tycoon Conrad Black and three other executives were charged in a federal fraud indictment Thursday involving the $2.1 billion (Ђ1.8 billion) sale of several hundred Canadian newspapers and the abuse of corporate perquisites at newspaper publishing company Hollinger International Inc.

Black, 61, Hollinger International's ousted chairman, was accused in the 11-count indictment of cheating the company's U.S. and Canadian shareholders as well as Canadian taxation authorities.

Black and the others were accused of fraudulently diverting more than $32 million (Ђ27.4 million) from the company through a complex series of transactions. Former Chicago Sun-Times publisher David Radler pleaded guilty to similar charges involving the $32 million in September.

But the indictment also outlines fresh allegations, including what federal prosecutors described as the fraudulent diversion of an additional $51.8 million in 2000 from Hollinger International's sale of assets to CanWestGlobal Communications Corp.

Prosecutors said that Black and others charged had arranged to funnel payments to themselves that were disguised as "non-competition" fees.

The indictment also charged that Black and one of his co-defendants fraudulently misused corporate perquisites, including a company jet for a vacation by Black and his wife in the South Pacific, two Park Avenue apartments and company money for a lavish birthday party for Mrs. Black.

Also charged in the indictment were John A. "Jack" Boultbee, 62, a Toronto-area accountant; Peter Y. Atkinson, 58, a Canadian attorney and former executive vice president of Hollinger International; and attorney Mark S. Kipnis, 58, of Northbrook, a Chicago suburb.

Also named as a defendant was Ravelston Corp., a Canadian company that Black used to gain control of Hollinger International, reports AP. O.Ch.

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