Not any more

Conrad Black drops bid to return to Canada; won’t file affidavit

In Canada on August 6, 2010 at 09:01

Conrad Black has withdrawn his request to return to Canada while a U.S. appeals court reviews his fraud convictions, sources say.

Lawyers for the 65-year-old former newspaper baron, who was released on bail two weeks ago, have notified U.S. Federal District Court Judge Amy St. Eve that Lord Black will not be filing additional disclosure about his finances as a pre-condition before she would entertain his request to return to his Toronto home.

Sources say Lord Black, who is said to have renewed his expired British passport and is visiting New York, is not yet prepared to file a sworn affidavit providing a complete accounting of his financial affairs.

Lord Black’s next appearance before Judge St. Eve is now scheduled for Sept. 20, during which he may reapply for permission to travel to Canada.

In the meantime, the British peer is restricted to travel in the continental United States after a business friend provided a US$2-million surety to the court to secure his release from a Florida prison.

His legal camp is said to be concerned the legal document could be a potential trap that U.S. prosecutors can — and will — use against the Montreal-born businessman to revoke his bail. In 2006, U.S. prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to have Lord Black’s bail rescinded, claiming he had lied in a sworn affidavit about his finances.

Judge St. Eve, who presided over the four-month criminal trial in 2007, had ordered full disclosure, including reporting traffic tickets, by Aug. 16 after Lord Black requested he be allowed to return to Canada during a bail hearing two weeks ago.

Judge St. Eve and U.S. prosecutors want to assess whether Lord Black poses a flight risk. Apparently, the more diminished his financial resources, the greater the court’s comfort that the man who once presided over the third-largest newspaper empire in the world is less likely to hide in locales far from the reach of U.S. justice.

For their part, those in Lord Black’s camp are nervous about ensuring the accuracy of the financial affidavit. The former media baron, who had served 28 months of a 78-month prison sentence at Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, is not details oriented and tends to rely on his advisors.

Compounding matters is that he has been absent from his affairs for 2½ years while in prison, and also that his assets are subject to a worldwide asset freeze as part of a civil lawsuit.

In the meantime, Lord Black’s lawyers are preparing to file written submissions to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Aug. 16 in support of his request to have his three fraud charges and one count of obstruction of justice set aside. The U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for Lord Black’s release from prison when it called into question most of his fraud convictions in June.

Lord Black was convicted and sentenced to 6½ years in prison in 2007 after a jury convicted him of defrauding investors in his newspaper empire and obstruction of justice.

National Post


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