Sun-Times Media Wants New Freeze On Conrad Black Assets

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By: E&P Staff

Sun-Times Media Group is asking a Canadian court to reimpose the global asset freeze on Conrad Black, the former newspaper mogul accused of looting the newspaper publishing company when it was known as Hollinger International Inc., the Globe and Mail reported Thursday.

In an article by Paul Waldie, the paper said the chain, publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, wants a freeze on Black’s assets until its own civil suit against its former chairman is settled.

Separately, Bloomberg reported Thursday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has informed three former Hollinger International directors that it will not sue them for allegedly failing to properly oversee the company at a time when Black and other top executives are accused of taking hundreds of millions in improper fees, payments, and contracts.

The article quoted one of those directors, former Illinois Gov. James Thompson as saying the three had been notified the SEC will not pursue legal action. The other two directors are Richard Burt, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, and Marie-Josee Kravis, president of the board of trustees of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The freeze on Black’s assets around the world was imposed in August by Judge Colin Campbell of the Ontario Superior Court. The order limited Black and his wife, the columnist Barbara Amiel-Black to spending C$25,000 (US$21,985) a month each. The freeze was imposed at the request of Hollinger Inc., a Toronto-based holding firm that Black once used to control his worldwide empire of newspapers. Inc. is suing Black — and the Sun-Times group — for allegedly improperly stripping Inc. of many newspaper properties.

The freeze was lifted in late September after Inc. and Black reached an undisclosed settlement on the assets.

The Globe and Mail reported that the Sun-Times group is also asking Judge Campbell to issue an order requesting courts in the United States and Britain recognize the freeze.

In its lawsuit, filed in 2004, the Sun-Times group is seeking $425 million in damages for the alleged looting of the company by Black and other key executives, including his long-time lieutenant F. David Radler, a former publisher of the Sun-Times. Black and others have also been charged criminally in U.S. court in Chicago. They have all pleaded not guilty, except for Radler who made a plea bargain that commits him to testify against his colleagues.

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