Conrad Black, who is due to be sentenced later this month, after being found guilty by a US court of fraud and obstruction of justice, has denied a report, published in Canada, that if he is sent to prison it should be in Britain rather than the US.
Prison time in Britain would be less daunting – and the chance of parole would be greater. As he is no longer a Canadian citizen – having renounced his citizenship in 2001 in order to accept a British peerage – he is not eligible to serve whatever sentence might be imposed in a Canadian prison.
Black, who was found guilty of “looting” investors in his Chicago-based newspaper empire, Hollinger International, tis due to be sentenced on 30 November. He could face anywhere between two and 10 years behind bars.
Serving whatever sentence is imposed in a prison outside the US would require the agreement of the American prosecutors.
Black is still optimistic that he will ultimately be exonerated on appeal.
He has branded many of his former colleagues – who gave evidence against him – as liars. One of the most damning pieces of evidence against him was a security videotape that showed him carting away cardboard boxes from his offices in Toronto which it was claimed contained damning documents.
Black insisted the contents were personal. The boxes – 13 altogether – were packed by an assistant without his knowledge, he claimed. He said he never even looked inside the boxes.
At his trial, Black declined to take the witness stand and testify. He has claimed since that he does not regret the decision. It would, he suggested, have opened him up to a much wider range of questioning. He insists he was the victim of a whole series of mistakes, none of them his making.
Black was head of the Hollinger Corp – now the Sun Times Media Group – for eight years. He and his co-defendants were accused of stealing millions of dollars from the company by the illegal sales of company assets between 1998 and 2001. He accused one of his colleagues, a former partner, who testified against him of being a ‘vile schoolyard snitch”.