Black to receive 'substantial' libel settlement

Former media mogul Conrad Black, who has seen his fortune nearly wiped out in his ongoing legal saga, will receive a handsome settlement for a series of libel suits.

Former media mogul Conrad Black, who has seen his fortune nearly wiped out in his ongoing legal saga, will receive a handsome settlement for a series of libel suits.

His lawyer, David Jenkins, said Thursday — the eve of his re-entering hearing — that Black has settled libel-related lawsuits against his former associates at Hollinger International Inc. and the man who wrote the report that helped send him to jail.

"Hollinger International's successor company, Sun Times Media Group, attached a substantial value to the libel action in the settlement figure that will be paid to Mr. Black," Jenkins said in a statement.

Details of the settlement are not being disclosed until the settlements are granted approval in Delaware and Illinois.

The settlement covers an insurance action, the original lawsuit against the former management from 2004, and Black's libel suits against former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Richard Breeden and a number of the former Hollinger International officers and directors, Jenkins said.

Black, the former Hollinger CEO, was attempting to sue members of a special committee of its directors over statements about alleged misuse of shareholder money by him and his inner circle of executives.

The libel suit stems from Breeden's report that accused Black of various nefarious financial transactions while at the head of Hollinger. The statements were published on the Chicago Sun-Times Media Inc. website, which Hollinger owned, and republished online by many media outlets in Ontario.

Black was sentenced in 2007 to serve 6½ years in jail on three fraud convictions related to the siphoning of $6.1 million of shareholder money and one for obstruction of justice for removing key documents. An appeals court reversed two of the fraud convictions.

The settlement comes just as Black heads to a resentencing hearing in Chicago on Friday that will determine whether he remains free or is sent back to a federal prison in Coleman, Fla.

Adam Daifallah, a spokesman for Conrad Black said: "Lord Black is satisfied that the Breeden Report, which he attacked and litigated over as soon as it was released, is being debunked."

It could help Black's troubled financial situation after years of legal wrangling depleted his billion dollar fortune. He has been forced to sell many of his assets including mansions in Palm Beach, Fla., London and New York.

Reports say he sold Palm Beach house in April for US$30 million after he earlier transferred ownership of the property to Connecticut-based investment firm Blackfield last month to settle an $11.6-million mortgage.

Black, who renounced his Canadian citizenship to become a member of the British House of Lords, was known for a grand lifestyle, including a $62,000 birthday party for his wife, a swanky apartment on Park Avenue in New York and a trip to the island of Bora Bora.

The settlement also comes after the Supreme Court of Canada reserved judgement in March on whether Ontario is the proper jurisdiction to hear the case.