Prosecutors: Former Media Baron Lying about Finances

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Indicted newspaper publisher Conrad Black enjoys a “free flow of millions of dollars," from his wife's private company, say federal prosecutors, who want Barbara Amiel-Black to reveal her finances under oath.

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Black is accused of helping to steal $84 million from Hollinger International Inc., now the Sun-Times Media Groups Inc., which owns the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers.

Prosecutors contend that Black lied about his finances in a 2005 sworn financial affidavit. The affidavit was used to set his $20 million bond, and prosecutors on Friday said they want the court to increase it, the Sun-Times reported.

A revised affidavit, filed last month, says that his wife loaned him $2.3 million between January and April of this year. "Essentially, it appears that whenever Black needs money, his wife (or at the very least, her corporation) stands ready to provide millions of dollars in cash without so much as a promissory note," prosecutors said in court papers filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. "The Blacks have a unique financial arrangement into which the government and this court have little or no information."

Without this information, prosecutors later said, "this court and the government are still left guessing whether the current bond is adequate to secure Black's continued appearance," the Chicago Tribune reported.

The revised financial statement was ordered after prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to have Black’s bail revoked in June.

Prosecutors said Black had $9 million more invested in Horizon Operations Ltd. of Canada than stated previously. Prosecutors also claimed the value of his ownership stake in Alberta Newspapers Ltd., which he holds jointly with his wife, is closer to $20 million than the $6-million figure provided in his revised statement.

Black’s attorney Ed Genson told the Sun-Times: “They ought to start filing their pleadings like lawyers and not short story writers. These pleadings are replete with inaccuracies and misrepresentations."

Prosecutors also said that Black’s $5.5 million interest in an Alberta newspaper group is actually worth $36 million. They also say he did not reveal to the court that he could gain $20 million from the sale of that group. Black said the inconsistencies were because of a variety of factors, including inaccessibility to documents and inaccurate information given to him by others, the Sun-Times reported.

Prosecutors want Amiel-Black to provide financial statements for herself and her company and provide details of any loans or payments between her and Black.

Black has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges and is scheduled to go trial in March.

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