‘Broke’ Conrad Black Giving $440,000 To Opera Troupe

By: E&P Staff

Despite criminal prosecution for fraud, civil lawsuits — and his lawyer’s courtroom assertion earlier this week that he has “no liquidity” — deposed newspaper baron Conrad Black is making a charitable donation of C$500,000 (US$441,750) to the Canadian Opera Company, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

In her “Giving Back” column about philanthropy in the Journal, Sally Beatty quoted Black’s tax attorney as saying that while “cosmetically, (the donation) looks bad,” the money is coming from a family foundation that Black cannot access for personal finances so “he might as well give it to charity.”

Beatty reported the foundation had assets of about C$3.12 million (US$2.76 million) as of 2004.

It isn’t clear whether U.S. prosecutors will attempt to claim any of the assets of the foundation, which is based in Canada.

Montreal-born Black is scheduled to go to trial in Chicago next March on fraud, money launderings and racketeering charges related to the alleged looting of nearly $90 million from Hollinger International, the publishing company of the Chicago Sun-Times that he chaired until forced to resign two years ago.

Prosecutors assert that Black, who is free on a $20 million bond secured by, among other things, a lien on his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. has misled them about his financial situation, and have asked a judge to increase or revoke his bond. The judge has told Black’s attorneys to prepare a full accounting of his assets, in a list signed by Black, and present it to the court by July 21.

At a hearing last Wednesday on the bond, Black’s Chicago attorney, Ed Genson, asserted Black had no income other money from a fee-dispute settlement with previous lawyers. “There is no liquidity, other than what you see here,” Genson said, referring to an asset list that U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve viewed with open skepticism.

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