Ruth Dudley Edwards: Black confident he's ahead of the rest
For Conrad Black the appeals go on, but the media baron remains optimistic, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
HERE'S an end-of-year report on Conrad Black, who spent last Christmas in the Coleman Federal Correctional Facility in Florida predicting -- to jeers from his media enemies -- that he would shortly be released. In the event, after the US Supreme Court cast doubt on his three fraud convictions, having served 870 days of a six-and-a-half-year sentence, he was out on bail in July and back in his Palm Beach home.
Assiduous followers of the Black saga will know that he was originally accused of robbing Hollinger International of hundreds of millions of dollars, was eventually charged with fraud, racketeering and obstruction of justice and stealing $60m (€45m), was found not guilty of nine counts but guilty of three of fraud (involving $6m (€4.5m)) and one of obstruction of justice.
The Chicago Court of Appeal threw out two fraud charges but bafflingly upheld the third (involving just $600,000). Black is appealing that and may well win, but what looks harder to make go away is the accusation that he removed 13 boxes of documents from his Toronto office with the intention of impeding an investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).