Caught on tape: Black to return boxes taken from Hollinger

Embattled former press baron caught on videotape removing boxes from company he once ran.

Conrad Black has been caught on videotape lugging boxes out the back door at Hollinger Inc., the Toronto company from which he once ruled a news empire.

After the security tape was played in court Wednesday, Black agreed to return the boxes, whose contents remain unknown. His lawyer said they contain personal items and their removal did not violate a court order forbidding Black to take away documents without the approval of a court-appointed inspector.

Regardless of what was in the boxes, Hollinger plans to ask an Ontario judge to cite Black for contempt of court for removing them, the Canadian Press reported.

Black, born to wealth, commanded a newspaper group that included the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Telegraph in London, the Jerusalem Post and many Canadian papers. He was later appointed to the British House of Lords.

But that was then.

At 60, he is accused of looting publicly traded companies he controlled. He faces a U.S. criminal investigation and is besieged by regulatory and civil actions on both sides of the border.

Black has consistently denied wrongdoing and has filed several lawsuits of his own.

His back-door job, captured in photos now widely circulated in newspapers, is the latest indignity for the man who gave up his Canadian citizenship to take the British title Lord Black of Crossharbour. Lately, his Rolls Royce Silver Wraith has been put on the block, encumbered by unpaid repair bills.

The tape shows Black, his assistant and his chauffeur taking a dozen boxes from of his former seat of power, 10 Toronto St., a small, elegant downtown building with a paved courtyard and iron railings. The boxes were loaded into the Cadillac he still has and taken away.

Hollinger, no longer under his control, has ordered him out of his office in the building by the end of the month.