Court Orders Radler To Return Documents

By: E&P Staff

Who were the “certain persons” who removed “certain documents” from the premises of a Hollinger Inc. subsidiary in British Columbia? Turns out it was F. David Radler, the former Hollinger CFO and top business associate of Conrad Black.

E&P Thursday night posted a story based on Hollinger Inc.’s status update, which referred in vague terms to a Aug. 19 incident in which documents were taken from an obscure subsidiary of Hollinger Inc. known as 2821354 Canada Inc. Hollinger, which Black once used to control newspapers such as the Chicago Sun-Times and Daily Telegraph of London, said it had obtained a court order to retrieve the documents.

In Friday’s Globe and Mail of Toronto, media reporter Richard Blackwell reported that the order was directed at Radler, who had been running his newspaper business out of the Vancouver offices.

Radler was ordered to list and return any documents he took, and turn them over to Ernst & Young, the firm appointed to examine transactions at Hollinger Inc. Another former Black subsidiary, Hollinger International, has accused Black, Radler and others of “looting” the company of $400 million by taking improper fees and payments. Radler’s attorney has said he will plead guilty Sept. 15 in U.S. District Court in Chicago to charges he took $32 million in phony “non-compete” payments tied to newspaper sales.

At Thursday’s court hearing, the Globe and Mail reported, attorney Sean Dewart said Radler had returned all six boxes of documents removed from the office. Dewart said they were “confidential correspondence he’d exchanged with his lawyers and some other personal documents.”

The night before Radler removed the documents, Hollinger had changed the locks on the offices. Radler nevertheless managed to get in his office.

“Mr. Radler strenuously resists the suggestion that there was any impropriety,” the Globe and Mail quoted Dewart as saying. “If Hollinger had acted with more courtesy they certainly could have avoided the misunderstandings that ensued. If you act under cover of night, as Hollinger did, you can’t be surprised if there’s a bit of confusion in the wake of that.”

In another Black-related matter, the Globe and Mail reported that a Canadian judge approved a settlement in which the big newspaper chain CanWest Global Communications Corp. will pay C$12.75 million (or about U.S.$10.5 million) to RSM Richter Inc., the court receiver for Ravelston Corp., the private holding company that Black also used to control his newspaper holdings.

Ravelston had been providing management services to the National Post — a paper created by Black in the late 1990s — and other CanWest papers since 2000, when the chain bought Hollinger Inc.’s Canadian newspapers.

Under their agreement, CanWest paid C$6 million (U.S. $4.95 million) annually in fees. The deal carried a termination penalty of C$22.5 million (U.S.$18.6 million) if Ravelston cancelled the arrangement. The deal was cancelled by the court-appointed receiver, RSM Richter Inc., when Ravelston went into receivership earlier this year.

Richter demanded the termination penalty plus an additional C$6 million for the six months during which Ravelston gave notice of its cancellation. CanWest argued that Ravelston was insolvent, and not owed anything.

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